Poland Says EU Hasn’t Sought New Spending Plan as Funds Delayed

Poland hasn’t been asked to adjust its plans for post-pandemic aid from the European Union, a minister said, following a report that the government is ready to offer concessions to unlock the funds.

The largest eastern EU state is among a handful of members yet to get approval for the disbursement of funds as the government faces reproach over its efforts to skirt some EU laws by saying Poland’s override them. The government in Warsaw has asked for 36 billion euros ($42.4 billion) in financing, including 23.9 billion euros in grants.

Poland could include a guarantee for judicial independence in its pitch for the funding, the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper reported on Monday, citing a government source it didn’t name.

“We delivered the final version” of the spending plan “on July 12, and it was approved on the technical level,” Waldemar Buda, a deputy minister for EU funds and regional policy, told TVN24 on Monday. Based on biweekly consultations with the European Commission, he said, “there is no expectation for us to change the plan.”

Buda’s statements contrast with those of European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, who has said the EU executive is seeking additional clarification about Poland’s compliance with the conditions of the aid.

The delay in accessing the post-pandemic aid comes amid an escalation in Poland’s long-running conflicts with the EU over issues ranging from judicial independence to LGBTQ rights. It prompted a senior ruling party official last week to raise the specter of his country leaving the EU in comments he later walked back amid government pressure.   

“We just expect the law to be respected,” Buda said, adding that the European Commission had until Aug. 3 to approve the spending plan. “What’s been happening since then? We have our doubts the Commission is sticking to deadlines.”

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