Diplomacy Economy Poland

Poland unlocks over EUR 100bn in EU funds

| 2024-02-24 2 min read

Poland unlocks over EUR 100bn in EU funds

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As of next week Poland can begin to access the around EUR 60bn of previously suspended COVID:19 pandemic and green funding and some EUR 76.5bn from EU cohesion funds, European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen announced after meeting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw on Friday, 23 February. 

“We are impressed by your efforts to restore the rule of law as the backbone of your society,” von der Leyen told Tusk. 

Tusk’s government must now roll back controversial judicial and state media reforms of the previous Eurosceptic, nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government, which ruled Poland from 2015-23.

Reversing PiS infringements

PiS’s two terms in power were marked by disputes over the EU, which said it was pushing Poland in an authoritarian direction.

In December 2017, the EC activated an Article 7 procedure against Poland, which concerns rule of law infringements, and the following year against Hungary. Theoretically, this procedure can result in an EU member state losing its voting rights.

Poland’s COVID:19 recovery funds were also frozen over PiS allegedly undermining judicial independence and checks and balances.

Polish Justice Minister Adam Bodnar said “We simply have to do everything in our power to repair the rule of law,” in Brussels, after he presented the plan.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders warned that the process would be long. Polish President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, must sign off new legislation for them to pass into law, which will represent an obstacle for Tusk as long as he is head of state. Duda’s current presidential term runs until next year.

Tusk seeks to end farmers, hauliers dispute

Poland’s economy has been hit by Russia’s full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, after which the EU scrapped quotas and other market access restrictions to help its economy.

Similar to last year, Polish farmers and hauliers are blocking six of the country’s nine cargo crossing points with Ukraine to protest cheap exports. 

The blockades are causing huge delays: more than 7,000 lorries were waiting on the Ukrainian side on Friday, and nearly 2,500 on the Polish side.

Tusk said EUR 1.5bn will go from the unlocked funds”directly to small and medium-sized food producers”, adding that he is seeking to end the dispute.

Von der Leyen vowed to take further measures to “make the life of farmers easier”, adding that the EU is “preparing the future of agriculture in Europe”.