© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: EU Commissioner for Budget and Management Johannes Hahn speaks during a news conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 22, 2021. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will find a way for Poland to access around 111 billion euros in frozen EU funds as the new Polish government seeks to address the bloc’s concerns about the rule of law, EU Budget Commissioner Johannes said Rooster on Wednesday.
The government of new centrist Prime Minister Donald Tusk was sworn in on Wednesday. This is the final step in a transfer of power that marks a major change after eight years of nationalist rule.
After years of disputes between Warsaw and Brussels under the previous government led by the Law and Justice party (PiS), Tusk’s appointment has raised hopes for smoother relations with the European Union.
“We have great expectations and will certainly support him (Tusk) in his efforts,” Hahn said in an interview with Reuters.
“We are not talking about an immediate transfer of billions, but rather about a release of the funds. We have to see what happens next,” he said. “I am sure we will find ways to help Poland. We have no doubt that they are moving in the right constitutional direction, so to speak,” he said.
Hahn’s comment was the Commission’s first official word on Poland’s prospects of accessing EU funds since the change of government. Tusk arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for an EU summit and will speak to the Commission on the sidelines about the frozen funds.
At stake is Poland’s access to 35.4 billion euros ($38.1 billion) in grants and loans from the European Union’s reconstruction fund, which the EU has suspended until Warsaw’s independence, undermined by the PiS government of its justice system.
The same concerns are blocking Poland’s access to 76.5 billion euros ($82.5 billion) in EU cohesion funds intended to improve living standards in the EU’s poorer regions.
Poland needs to pass new laws to meet some of the commission’s demands that the country reverse measures taken by the previous nationalist government.
However, the new laws require the signature of Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is allied with the former government and has signaled he will not support it.
Duda’s term ends in mid-2025, posing an obstacle for the Tusk government. Hahn said the commission would work with Warsaw to resolve the issue.
“How this can be accomplished is beyond my current knowledge. But we’re certainly not going to wait a year and a half, so I think there has to be some kind of solution,” he said.
Source : www.investing.com