With billboards and spots across the country, Poland’s government is expressing joy over tens of billions of euros from the European Union. There is only one catch: Warsaw has not yet received the money from the EU’s 750 billion euro reconstruction budget. Because the EU Commission has not yet released the money because of the dismantling of the rule of law.
Poland’s opposition leader Donald Tusk, the former EU Council President, blames the delay on Poland’s actual head of government and leader of the PiS party, Jarosław Kaczyński. With his “irresponsible and immature policy” of dismantling the rule of law and violating the European legal system, he was responsible for the ban on disbursement of the EU billions. Tusk drew a comparison with the post-war period, when Poland’s communist government rejected US reconstruction funds from the Marshall Plan on orders from Moscow. At that time Poland was a “lawless country with an authoritarian government”. “Today it starts to be similar.”
Poland is actually entitled to 58 billion euros: 23.9 billion euros in grants from the EU, another 12.1 billion euros in cheap loans and another 22 billion euros in loans until 2023. 18 other EU countries have already received approval from Brussels for their spending plans, ten already money. However, in the case of Poland and Hungary, the EU Commission extended the processing time. Actually, the decision should be made by September 1st, that has been postponed.
This was the result of Poland’s refusal to immediately dissolve an illegal disciplinary body that can dismiss or suspend any judge and public prosecutor, despite a landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) on July 15 – and has already done so in the case of several judges who investigated violations of the law by the ruling party PiS . The ECJ also saw other changes to the Polish legal system as a breach of EU law.
There is still no draft law to recast the suspended judicial elements
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro dismissed ECJ judgments as “hybrid warfare by the EU” against Poland. The government-controlled constitutional court ruled on July 14th that Poland was not obliged to follow an instruction from the ECJ that had already obliged Poland to suspend the disciplinary body at the beginning of April 2020. In addition, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki applied to the Constitutional Court for a landmark ruling that should establish the primacy of Polish over EU law. The decision has been postponed six times, now to September 22nd.
The fact that the reconstruction billions have not been released for Poland is also due to the July judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court, said EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni on September 1 in the budget committee of the European Parliament. “The discussion continues … as the Polish authorities know very well, it also includes the issue of the primacy of EU law and the possible consequences of this issue for Poland’s reconstruction plan.”
Paweł Juszczyszyn, one of the judges who had been illegally suspended from the illegal disciplinary body for a year and a half, stressed on TVN24 that the Polish government had not yet submitted any bill to not only close the disciplinary body, but also to abolish or reform other judicial institutions that violate EU law so to evade political control. So far, the Polish government has given the EU Commission “only empty promises and plays for time to get the EU money”.