Justice minister blames Germans for blocking EU funding

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

The Polish justice minister has accused the head of the European Commission (EC) of “cheating” the prime minister, while claiming Germany is responsible for the EU blocking Poland's access to a post-pandemic recovery fund.

In an attack on Ursula von der Leyen, the EC president, and her homeland Germany, Zbigniew Ziobro said Poland had been "robbed" of its funding under the bloc's Recovery and Resilience Facility and that German policy had "played a leading role in that robbery."

Ziobro referred to a report in Saturday's edition of the German weekly Der Spiegel that said EC Deputy President Vera Jourova had opposed Von der Leyen's acceptance of Poland's National Recover Plan (KPO) and the release of funds.

The EC's acceptance of Poland's KPO was conditional upon the country meeting "milestones" on judicial independence. The conditions were set following a dispute between Warsaw and Brussels over judicial reforms the EC considered detrimental to the rule of law. Key to the EC's acceptance of the plan was a presidential bill amending a Supreme Court law that had been a sticking point between the two sides.

"The Der Spiegel newspaper is trying to present a version (of events) as if it was not Mrs Von der Leyen cheating the Polish government and Polish prime minister, but actually the person behind it all was, excuse me, I don't want to use the term 'nasty Czech,' Mrs Jourova," Ziobro told a press conference on Monday. "Well these are fairy tales for good children, it is just a further continuation of delirium on the part of the Germans.

"Von der Leyen was and is an important German politician, she clearly cheated the Polish prime minister, cheated the president, exposed him to humiliation, trips to Brussels, showing the draft law (amending the act on the Supreme Court - PAP), the draft was accepted and today we hear that it's not enough and new demands are being made," Ziobro said.

The justice minister said his junior coalition party, Solidary Poland, had warned of such a scenario as early as December 2020, and had later warned in July against making "concession to cynical, determined, mostly German politicians, because they play a leading role, will end with increased pressure, blackmail, further shenanigans, and as a consequence we will be robbed.

"Poland has been robbed and the leading role in this plundering of Poland is played by German policy, German politicians, with the German Von der Leyen at the helm, that is a fact," he said.

Ziobro added that Poland needed to find a way out of the situation and that his party would appeal to Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, "since he has trusted in his time Mrs (former German Chancellor Angela - PAP) Merkel and trusted Mrs Von der Leyen and despite our warnings believed those funds would not be blocked, we would not be blackmailed, today we expect the prime minister to present a plan B.

"We are ready to work together and do everything to prevent Poland being blackmailed," Ziobro said.