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Poland receives $6.7 bln in EU funds

The European Union has allocated 6.3 billion euros (about $6.7 billion) to Poland as part of a pandemic recovery fund, AP News reports.

The EU had earlier decided to block the money because Poland’s former national-conservative government, ousted from power in October, made changes to the judiciary that the EU said violated democratic checks and balances.

The European Commission said that in order to receive the funds, Poland must reach certain “milestones” guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. Brussels has emphasised that an independent judiciary is essential to uphold EU democratic norms, with some also arguing that independent courts increase investor confidence in the country’s ability to resolve commercial disputes.

Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, Poland’s Minister of Foundations and Regional Policy, welcomed the move, while emphasising that the value of EU membership goes beyond money. She wrote on X:

“Being in the EU pays off, but the EU is not only about money, which our predecessors forgot. We are united by values: democracy, equal opportunities, rule of law, civil liberties!”

A coalition of three centre-left parties led by current Prime Minister Donald Tusk won parliamentary elections and took power in Poland in December. It replaced the Law and Justice party, which had ruled for eight years, and made changes to the justice system, reproductive rights and the media that put Poland on a collision course with the EU.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in February that Warsaw would have access to up to 137 billion euros in funds after the new government began implementing reforms that it said would restore judicial independence in Poland.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility, was created in 2020 and a year later a 672.5 billion euro ($815 billion) recovery package was approved to help member countries recover more quickly from the coronavirus pandemic.

Poland will receive 25.3 billion euros (about $26.9 billion) in grants and 34.5 billion euros (nearly $36.7 billion) in loans as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan.

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