WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The head of the European Commission visited Warsaw on Thursday to officially confirm the long-term approval of the EU executive plan to restore Poland from the pandemic, which will conditionally release billions of euros in grants and loans to the country.
Commission Chairman Ursula von der Leyen met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to discuss the commission’s decision on Wednesday. Later, they were to meet with President Andrzej Duda and jointly announce the agreement, which is taking place at a time when Poland is taking steps to eliminate some of the problematic issues that have hindered the approval of the plan for several months.
The agreement includes “milestones” in ensuring the independence of the judiciary, which Poland must achieve before any of the nearly 36 billion euros ($ 38.5 billion) can be allocated.
The EU has frozen funds due to the Polish government’s political control over the judiciary, and steps that have not yet been reached require change. The disciplinary regime for judges used by the government to punish critics should be changed and new rules introduced, and sanctions imposed on judges should be reviewed and lifted if found unfair.
Polish lawmakers are still working to amend the Supreme Court ruling to abolish the disputed Disciplinary Chamber but replace it with another body of professional responsibility. Only one of the dozens of dismissed judges was reinstated, but in a different section of his court, and he was granted leave.
The commission’s approval of Poland’s reconstruction plan must be confirmed by the other 26 European Union member states within four weeks. This will result in the nationalist government in Warsaw eventually gaining access to 23.9 billion euros ($ 25.4 billion) in grants and 11.5 billion euros ($ 11.7 billion) in loans.
The commission made the decision on Wednesday, even though a group of MEPs expressed deep concern over the democratic retreat in Poland.
It was not immediately clear when the funds could come.