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EU unblocks frozen funding for Poland

February 29, 2024

The money had been withheld because of a dispute between the EU and the former government, but now Donald Tusk's administration started to roll back some legal reforms in return for billions in funding.

 Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk attends a press conference in Warsaw, Poland
Tusk seeks to overturn a series of measures imposed by the previous conservative government that went against EU judicial cornerstonesImage: Kuba Atys/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

The European Commission on Thursday formally approved the release of  €137 billion (about $148.3 billion) to Poland.

The commission cut off funding to Poland in 2022 due to rule of law concerns.

Poland could access some €76.5 billion in cohesion funds to help raise living standards in poorer EU member states.

It will also get access to almost €60 billion from a post-COVID recovery fund. The latter still needs to be approved by EU member states.

"Today we turn a page on the Rule Of Law issues [with Poland] as we recognize the important strides made by the government," EU Commission Vice President Vera Jourova wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

New government started with judicial reform

Poland's previous government clashed several times with Brussels over reforms to its judicial system which the EU says has infringed on judicial independence — one of the core tenets of EU law. Last June, the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court, ruled that Poland's 2019 judicial reform was unlawful and should be repealed.

After winning the election in October 2023 and being appointed in December, new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk pledged to reverse the previous government's policies.

Last week Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised "good news" to reward Tusk for his efforts.

Polish Justice Minister Adam Bodnar was in Brussels last week to present the new government's plan, consisting of laws aimed at rolling back the controversial reforms.

Parts of that plan depend on new legislation, which could yet be vetoed by Polish president Andrzej Duda of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which controlled the previous government.

lo/wd (AP, dpa)