No real obstacle to receiving recovery funds by Poland says Kaczyński
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, has said there is no reason why Poland should not receive funds from its National Recovery Plan (KPO) as he commented on earlier statement by the European Commission (EC) chief.
On Thursday, Ursula von der Leyen warned that the EU's post-pandemic recovery funds will not be unlocked for Poland if the country does not bring back the independence of the judiciary.
Kaczyński told a public radio station on Sunday that "At the moment, there is no real obstacle for us to receive the funds, because certain conditions (known as milestones - PAP) imposed by the EC have been fulfilled" and that Von der Leyen's statement is "outrageous since she approved this Polish allocation here, in Warsaw."
"When blackmail started from the European Parliament that she would be dismissed she later changed her mind," he said.
"We are entitled to these funds... but if someone wants to hit the dog, they will find the stick," Kaczyński added.
According to him, "milestones are nothing extraordinary, all countries have milestones (...) these are simply points describing subsequent things to be done."
Questioned whether these funds were already written off by the Polish government, Kaczyński said that "for now the most important EU funds (structural and cohesion funds - PAP) are at a stake... and according to statements by several commissioners, including those unfavourable to us, these are not endangered."
He added that the government will anyway start financing projects under the KPO through its own resources.
"And if, and there are many indications of this, there is such a moment, perhaps we will have to wait, when the rule of law is restored in the European Union, then we will have this money," Kaczyński said.
He also argued that "in fact, it is not about the funds but about this plan, I will call it the Scholz plan, that simply ... Central Europe would be put under... the foot of Germany."
Later on Sunday, Kaczyński said that in the light of von der Leyen's Thursday statement he does not believe that Poland will get recovery funds from the EU now.
"This is obviously illegal and we will get this money sooner or later. I think that just after winning the elections. Now I do not think we can get this money because making further concessions does not make any sense anymore," he said.
Kaczyński did not rule out legal steps against the EC as regards the lack of payment of money from the KPO.
"We have undertaken the projects planned in the KPO. Since we have an approved plan, they should pay us. Perhaps we will sue them for this money," 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. But the EC has long been at loggerheads with Poland's ruling Law and Justice party and froze Warsaw's access to the funds until it meets several rule-of-law milestones.
In May, Poland adopted new legislation abolishing a disciplinary chamber for judges at the Polish Supreme Court, which has been at the heart of the dispute between Brussels and Warsaw. In July, a new body was set up at the Supreme Court called the Chamber of Professional Responsibility, whose judges are appointed by the president. But Brussels would like to see further steps taken including the reinstatement of judges removed from adjudication by the contested disciplinary chamber. The EC is also concerned that the new chamber may be just another "politically controlled" institution, similar to the body liquidated in May.