Justice minister dismissal is best way to get EU funds Tusk says
Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Coalition (KO), Poland’s main opposition grouping, has said that the best way for the country to gain access to billions of euros in post-pandemic EU recovery funding is to sack Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.
Ziobro, the leader of Solidary Poland, a junior party in Poland’s governing coalition 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.
The Commission froze Polish access to the funds owing to a long-standing dispute between Brussels and Warsaw over the rule of law.
"I would like to believe that Poles will finally get this money, because it is our money. They are blocked not by Brussels, not by the opposition, but we know exactly by whom," Tusk said on Friday referring to Ziobro.
"There is a very simple method for us to get money from the EU, and that is the dismissal of Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, which I hope will happen in a week or two," he added.
On Tuesday, the main opposition grouping, KO, the Left party and Poland 2050 parliamentary caucus jointly submitted to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, a motion of no confidence in Ziobro.
The Sejm will likely vote on the motion at its next sitting, scheduled for November 30-December 2.
But Piotr Mueller, the government spokesman, told a press conference on Saturday 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.
In June the European Commission (EC) approved Poland's National Recovery Plan (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 a 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.