EU to retreat in funding row: Polish PM

EU to retreat in funding row: Polish PM

The European Union will abandon threats to stop funding to countries that breach the rule of law, according to Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki (pictured). 

The premier for the populist Law and Justice party (PiS) said Poland was “left on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain” after the Second World War and needed extra resources to catch up with western Europe.

The European Parliament this month warned that the Polish rule of law had “deteriorated” as PiS looks to enforce a judicial shakeup. 

Poland’s Supreme Court last week stood up to PiS, ruling against the body that has been established to appoint judges and members of a controversial new disciplinary chamber.

The court ruled that judges appointed by the new body are not judges under either Polish or European law. 

It said the verdicts that those “judges” made in the past would remain valid.

Senior EU figures have argued that future funding should be made conditional on democratic values and the rule of law. The issue is being considered during discussions over the next budget for the bloc. 

Poland is the largest net beneficiary of EU spending, receiving billions each year. 

The former communist satellite state will also benefit from investment through the newly announced Green Fund to help shut down coal power stations.

PiS won power in 2015 promising to sustain the coal industry but more recently has said it would move towards renewable energy to address the growing problem of air pollution.

Coal currently makes up about 80 per cent of Poland’s energy generation – the highest coal dependency in the EU – and it is expected to fall to 50 per cent by 2040. According to the European statistics agency, Eurostat, renewable sources made up 10.9 per cent of Poland’s energy mix in 2017, which will need to increase to 15 per cent this year to comply with the EU’s environmental targets.

Poland is looking to force the retirement of top judges, which the European Commission says poses a ”clear risk of a serious breach by a member state of the values” of the bloc.

Brussels has threatened to invoke Article 7 of the EU’s treaties to potentially impose diplomatic sanctions on Poland.

The European Court of Justice has also said the Polish measures are unlawful.



Mateusz Morawiecki. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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