Chances of agreement with EC on recovery plan improve slightly, says PM

Leszek Szymański/PAP

The Polish prime minister has said that the chances of a deal being struck with the European Commission (EC) over Poland’s National Recovery Plan (KPO) have improved slightly.

Mateusz Morawiecki added that only 5 percent of the issues surrounding the plan remain to be negotiated.

All EU countries had to submit to the EC a plan if they wanted to gain access to the EU's multi-billion-euro post-pandemic aid package. Poland submitted its draft of the National Recovery Plan, outlining how EU pandemic recovery funds will be spent, on May 3, 2021.

Under the Recovery Fund, Poland could receive some EUR 58.1 billion, including EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 34.2 billion in loans.

However, the EC has threatened to hold up payment of EU funds until a dispute over the rule of law in Poland is resolved.

Morawiecki told a press conference in Brussels that following talks with the EC on Friday, the chances of reaching agreement over the plan had grown slightly.

He said talks on the KPO were continuing and that he did not wish to create any expectations as discussions were "moving forward laboriously" but that a presidential bill had already gone to parliament.

"I don't want to speak for the European Commission but... I can say that I have always had faith - though there is no certainty - that it will be possible to reach an agreement with the European Commission in the coming weeks, leading to the Commission signing the national recovery programme," he said, adding that "after today's talks those chances have slightly improved."

Morawiecki said he had instructed ministers to work on concrete programmes under the KPO and to announce tenders. "Work is going ahead in line with our timetable," he said, adding that the government would spend now in the hope that the money would be refunded.

Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, set conditions in October under which the KPO would include an obligation for the Polish government to liquidate a contested Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which has been at the centre of the rule-of-law dispute.

On February 4, a bill authored by the Polish president reached Poland's Sejm (lower house of parliament) providing for the dismantlement of the Disciplinary Chamber and the creation of a Professional Responsibility Chamber in its place.