EU to Let Poland Access Billions as Tusk Promises Overhaul

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(Bloomberg) -- The European Union approved the release of pandemic recovery funds to Poland after the new government under Prime Minister Donald Tusk committed to restoring judicial independence in line with EU standards.

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The initial unlocking of €6.3 billion ($6.8 billion) in recovery funds withheld by the European Commission over rule-of-law concerns comes in response to a request from Warsaw. Poland has fulfilled two so-called milestones tied to judicial independence and one on audit and control systems, an EU spokesperson said in Brussels.

“Today we turn a page on the rule of law issues with Poland,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in a post on X social platform. “The judicial milestones in the Recovery Plan have been met. The European Commission was objective and supportive as had always been in the past.”

The decision affects almost €60 billion in recovery fund allocated to Poland. Separately, the EU’s executive arm also said Warsaw€ has met key conditions that will allow it to access up to €76 billion in cohesion funds, which had also been held up.

The Polish government has shown that it will comply with EU standards even though not all proposed measures have been implemented, according to EU officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Bloomberg reported last week that the commission was poised to approve funds.

The decision underscores confidence in Tusk, whose ruling coalition secured a majority in an election in October on a pledge to mend ties with the 27-member bloc. The premier has vowed to access billions in aid that had been blocked over running disputes between the nationalist government and the commission on democratic backsliding.

Read More: EU Poised to Release Polish Aid Blocked in Rule of Law Clash

The commission’s decision still needs to be approved by the EU member states. Funds to which Poland has potential access account for about a fifth of Poland’s annual economic output.

The EU has refused to release Poland’s share of the bloc’s aid until Warsaw meets a series of conditions, or milestones, that focus on reversing controversial changes in the judiciary introduced by the predecessor government under the Law & Justice party, which ruled for eight years.

--With assistance from Konrad Krasuski.

(Updates with a comment from EU commissioner in third paragraph.)

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