epa11030564 Donald Tusk hoping to complete the handshake on the EU funds due to Poland which are proving to be more elusive than expected as the rule of law controversy in Poland continues. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


Tusk ‘taken to task by EC’ over Polish funds disbursement


The European Commission expects Poland to be “forceful” with measures regarding rule-of-law compliance and health and transport reforms before it pays out European Union Cohesion funds, according to Polish commercial radio station RMF FM.

New Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk may have a problem getting speedy access to those €75 billion resources, which are separate to post-pandemic funds but that are also affected by the rule-of-law dispute that is ongoing between Poland and the EC.

Even if that issue is resolved by the new Polish Government, there remain conditions on the payment of such funds with regard to transport and health.

Brussels is demanding Poland presents a clear plan for investment in the transport sector and wants to see a strategic framework for healthcare sector. The Polish Government is making light of these conditions – but they remain an obstacle.

The rule-of-law situation remains the primary issue. “There have been too many high-minded statements about the return of the rule of law and too few concrete measures detailed,” an EC official told RMF FM. 

That will not have been helped by news coming out of Warsaw of the Government’s actions over public media being questioned by the courts, nor with the dismissal of the National Prosecutor having taken place on what most believe are dubious legal grounds.

Moreover, the EC will likely note the gridlock between the President Alexander Duda and the Government with regard to legislation, which will make any move on judicial reform that Brussels may wish to see doubly difficult.

The dispute between Poland and the EC has been ongoing since 2016 when Brussels challenged the judicial reforms being carried out by the then-ruling Conservative PiS government. As a result, the EC has withheld post-pandemic funds and latterly EU Cohesion funds.

During the election campaign last year, Tusk claimed that if elected his government would bring the rule of law back to Poland and thus unlock EU funding due to the country.

Initially, his return to office was greeted with enthusiasm by the EC. Yet, the first month of the new Government’s rule has brought with it questions over whether the confrontational strategy being pursued, especially in regard to relations with Duda, may lead to more chaos in Poland’s legal and judicial systems.