Poland sets out 'lines that cannot be crossed' in dispute with EU

Poland’s Europe minister has said he told the European Commission which “lines cannot be crossed” during talks on unblocking billions of euros in EU post-pandemic recovery funding.

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.

The KPO outlines how the Polish government will spend the money, but so far the EC has refused to grant Poland access to the funding until it meets several rule-of-law milestones.

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.

"I told them which lines cannot be crossed," Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said on Tuesday. "I believe no elements can be introduced that would be incompatible with the constitution; that would question the presidential prerogative to nominate judges; that would breach the (EU) treaties in the context of the competences of EU institutions; that would cause turbulence in the judicial system."

He said he was not going to Brussels for legislative proposals from the EC, but rather to discuss mutual obligations, "about the fact that Poland has 95-percent met its milestone obligations and is ready to fulfil the remaining 5 percent, and I'm going there to present how we are ready to fulfil them.

"However, we know that the EC's opinion in the matter differs," he explained. "Now we face an option: do we stand firmly by our position and do nothing, or — knowing there is no readiness on the part of the EC to properly process our application for payment from the KPO — do we once again verify what the EC's doubts stem from, to clarify which elements are in our opinion inaccurate, to take the EC's opinion into account and see if we can still do something to take a step forward. And we are taking that route."