Polish local gov'ts preparing joint stance on EU budget - Warsaw mayor

If the central government's actions will result in the recovery fund operating everywhere but in Poland, then the country's competitiveness will suffer, Trzaskowski said, adding that all local government organisations "have been preparing a joint stance." Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Polish local governments have been preparing a joint policy concerning the EU's next seven-year budget amid the central government's threats to veto the budget over a rule of law clause, Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski said on Tuesday.

Poland and Hungary have opposed a new EU mechanism that ties EU budget payouts to the rule of law observance in EU member states. A veto by the two countries would also derail the EUR 750 bln recovery fund that is aimed to prop up European economies battered by the coronavirus crisis.

At a Tuesday conference of Polish local governments, Trzaskowski said the central government's strategy towards the EU was incomprehensible. "If we are to cope with the epidemic and the recession, then all Polish local governments need money. We must invest money. We need new funds (...) to emerge from the recession as quickly as possible," he said.

If the central government's actions will result in the recovery fund operating everywhere but in Poland, then the country's competitiveness will suffer, Trzaskowski said, adding that all local government organisations "have been preparing a joint stance."

"The (European) Committee of the Regions (the EU's assembly of local and regional representatives - PAP), in cooperation with us, have issued a very clear stance on the veto, because our colleagues in Europe don't understand this veto and don't agree with it," Trzaskowski said.

Trzaskowski also expressed concerns over the central government's plans regarding EU funding for Warsaw and surrounding localities. "We are hearing that Warsaw and nearby municipalities are to be excluded from the regional programme, which is unbelievable. As a standard, central governments try to ensure extra development for the capital, but Poland's government now wants to cut off Warsaw and the entire metropolitan area, over three million Poles, from regional funds due to political reasons."

Jacek Karnowski, mayor of the coastal city of Sopot and a representative of the Union of Polish Cities, said some local governments will stage a protest against the Polish government's strategy. "In some Polish cities we will switch off lighting for an hour at 5 pm to show that without funds we're left in the dark." Lights crucial for safety will remain on.