European Commission: Poland must meet judicial independence target before receiving funds under recovery deal
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European Commission: Poland must meet judicial independence target before receiving funds under recovery deal

A spokeswoman for the European Commission (EC) Thursday told a press briefing that Poland will only receive money under the Poland Recovery and Resilience Plan if Poland submits a payment request, which must be approved by the EC, and meets a list of milestones and targets, including greater judicial independence.

The EC’s comments come two days after the general secretary of Poland’s ruling “Law and Justice” party threatened to “pull out all the cannons in our arsenal and open fire” if the EC continues to pressure Poland to reform its judiciary. General Secretary Krzysztof Sobolewski specifically said that Poland might take legal action against the EC and attempt to oust Commission President Ursula von der Leyen if Poland does not receive the funds.

EC Spokeswoman Arianna Podestà said:

Poland needs to demonstrate … milestones related to important aspects of the independence of the judiciary, which are of particular importance to improve the investment climate, and put in place the conditions for an effective implementation of the plan are fulfilled. When it believes it has fulfilled the milestones and targets for the first payment request, it has to submit a payment request, and we will assess it at that moment.

The Poland Recovery and Resilience Plan, one of 27 plans that the EC has drafted with its member states, is set to give Poland 23.9 billion euros in grants and 11.5 billion euros in cheap loans in order to help Poland recover from pandemic-related financial troubles. The EC approved the plan in July, and EU member states’ finance ministers approved it two weeks later.

The dispute between the Polish government and the EU regarding the plan is one of many that have emerged in recent years. In February the European Court of Justice rejected a Polish-Hungarian challenge to the European Council’s decision to withhold payments to the two nations over concerns about judicial independence. The European Commission has also repeatedly criticized Poland for the existence of “LGBT-free” zones within its borders, which were recently dissolved by a Polish court.