Minister says Poland may get EU pandemic funds in late spring

Leszek Szymański/PAP

Poland could receive the first payments from the EU's multi-billion pandemic fund in late spring, provided that required laws are passed, the Polish EU minister has said.

Brussels has locked Poland out of funding owing to its apparent failure to overhaul or reverse changes to the Polish judicial system it considers a threat to the rule of law.

Law and Justice (PiS), the dominant party in the ruling United Right coalition, has been at loggerheads with its small Eurosceptic ally, Solidary Poland (SP), over what concessions, if any, should be made towards the EU to unlock the funds.

If SP refuses to support the necessary amendments to judiciary law, PiS will have to turn to the opposition for support.

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told Polish public radio on Friday that if an amendment to the Supreme Court law is passed to meet one of the European Commission's (EC) requirements, or milestones, and three other milestones are also dealt with, the EC could start processing the motion for payment and "there would be a chance that the funds could be paid to Poland in late spring."

Commenting on the PiS dispute with SP, Szynkowski vel Sek said that "there is an intensive exchange of opinions on the matter," but admitted that "the justice minister (SP leader, Zbigniew Ziobro - PAP) and his associates have expressed extreme scepticism."

SP termed the EUR 35.4 billion funding as a very expensive loan and raised concerns that meeting the EC demands may curb Poland's sovereignty. The government says the funding will strengthen the robustness of the Polish economy and thus increase the country's security.