Gov't says national recovery plan will go through with opposition votes
Even if the governing coalition's small ally, Solidary Poland votes against Poland's national plan (KPO) to gain access to billions of euros in post-pandemic EU funding it will be passed in the parliament with the opposition votes, a government spokesperson said.
Zbigniew Ziobro, the leader of Solidary Poland, a junior party in Poland’s ruling camp and known for his hawkish attitude to the EU, has been accused of blocking government attempts to strike a deal with the European Commission to unlock the funding.
On November 15, the main opposition groupings jointly submitted to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, a motion of no confidence in Ziobro. But Mueller said at the time that there is no possibility of kicking Solidary Poland out of the coalition. He added that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party will vote against the motion.
The Commission froze Polish access to the funds owing to a long-standing dispute between Brussels and Warsaw over the rule of law.
On Monday, Piotr Mueller, the government spokesman was asked at a press conference how Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki intends to resolve the conflict with Ziobro, in order to obtain funds from the KPO.
He said that although there are differences within the United Right "in this particular case... in the overwhelming majority of cases we agree and vote for bills without major problems in the Polish parliament."
But, he added, "if Solidary Poland does not want to support us on KPO, we will be forced to vote on certain statutory amendments with those in parliament who believe that additional funds are important for Poland."
Mueller noted that Solidary Poland voted against the bill on the EU's own resources, which allowed the KPO to be launched.
"At that time, with the votes of the opposition... we managed to pass the bill," he said.
The European Commission (EC) approved Poland's KPO in early June, opening the way for Warsaw to get EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in cheap loans from the bloc's post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The KPO outlines how Poland intends to spend money from the multi-billion euro post-pandemic recovery fund, but so far the rule-of-law dispute has stopped Poland accessing the money.
Poland argues that it has already enacted legislation that meets the EC's requirements, and has rejected calls for further steps, saying they infringe on both Polish sovereignty and the EU treaties.
But critics accuse Ziobro of consistently opposing any concessions the government might make in an attempt to end the impasse, prompting accusations that he is standing in the way of badly needed cash.
Meanwhile on Monday, Grzegorz Puda, the minister for funds and regional policy, told PAP that the arrangements for KPO had been signed and that the government was preparing its first payment application.