Opposition leader says Poles will get EU money

"My talks have clearly shown that practically everyone, with no exception, including the EC president, is looking for ways to get out of this stalemate and for Poland to receive the money," Tusk said. Adam Warżawa/PAP

Donald Tusk, leader of Poland's main opposition party Civic Platform, has said he talked to EU leaders and was sure that "no-one was planning to punish Poles" for the conflict between the country's conservative ruling party and Brussels.

The EU held a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, where the rule of law in Poland was one of the main topics.

Poland's conservative government has been embroiled in a number of protracted conflicts with the EU in several areas, most notably over the country's reforms of the justice system which, according to Brussels, violate judicial independence.

"I returned from Brussels yesterday, where an EU summit was taking place but also a summit of the European People's Party (the biggest party in the European Parliament - PAP)," Tusk said on Saturday.

"I had an opportunity to talk to many chancellors and prime ministers, as well as European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen about the rule of law situation in Poland," Tusk continued.

He said there was no risk Poland will not get EU money.

"Poland and Poles will receive this money, no-one was planning to punish Poles for the stubbornness of the PiS (Law and Justice - PAP) government," the PO leader said.

Tusk also expressed concerns about the government's pledge in Brussels that it would shut down a contested disciplinary panel at the country's Supreme Court.

In a July ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Poland to shut down the panel, saying that it lacked independence and could be used by the government to silence defiant judges, but Poland has failed to comply, so far.

"I hope that the words will be followed by actions and at least advance money that Poles are waiting for will be unfrozen, advance money from these huge EU funds for reconstruction after the (coronavirus) pandemic," Tusk said.

"My talks have clearly shown that practically everyone, with no exception, including the EC president, is looking for ways to get out of this stalemate and for Poland to receive the money," Tusk said.

"I hope that the Polish government will be a binding force for the EU, rather than one that breaks it up from the inside - if not this government, then certainly the next one," he said.

However, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday calling on the European Commission (EC) to step up its pressure on Poland by freezing EU funds allocated to the country and not releasing the post-Covid recovery money that Warsaw has been waiting for for months.

Some commentators see the EC withholding the release of EUR 36 billion in recovery funds for Poland as a consequence of the country's failure to comply with CJEU verdicts.