Rule-of-law strife has no influence on cohesion funding - EU commissioner

"Judicial issues... have no influence on cohesion funds," Wojciechowski said. MARTIN DIVISEK/PAP/EPA

Poland's rule-of-law conflict with the EU poses no threat to its access to cohesion funding, Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, told PAP on Monday.

Wojciechowski's statement came just hours after Rzeczpospolita, a major Polish newspaper, wrote that the rule-of-law dispute over changes to the Polish judicial system that led to Brussels blocking access to a post-pandemic recovery fund for Poland, could affect EU cohesion funding for 2021-27.

The cohesion fund, which is targeted mainly at post-communist countries, supports investments in the environment and transport infrastructure.

"Judicial issues... have no influence on cohesion funds," Wojciechowski said. He added that in September, Johannes Hahn, the EU budget commissioner, had said that in Poland's case there were "no direct links" between the rule-of-law dispute and cohesion funding.

"Nothing has changed since then. The Commission has undertaken no talks, nor made any decisions in this matter... Right now there is no reason to fear for Poland's cohesion funding. The judicial reform issue has no influence on cohesion funds," Wojciechowski said.

Reports that the judicial dispute could block all of Poland's EU funding also appeared in the Financial Times, which quoted anonymous EU officials as saying that most of the 2021-27 funding for Poland was "inaccessible."

Later on Monday, the Polish government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, refuted the reports on the alleged freezing of EU money for Poland.

Mueller said that "we have not received any letter from the European Commission (EC) concerning the blocking of EU funds... either those from the cohesion fund or the agricultural funds."

Mueller also branded the news as "typical manipulation".