European Interest

Poland’s FM against EU linking funds to rule of law

Flickr/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland/CC BY-NC 2.0
Minister Jacek Czaputowicz in a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Brussels, January 22, 2018.

Poland’s foreign minister has announced that his country will oppose a European Union proposal to cut funding to countries where the rule of law is deemed under threat.

In an interview with The Associated Press (AP) on April 30, Jacek Czaputowicz said there is unfair political pressure that would hurt the country while letting others off the hook for different problems.

Czaputowicz’s comments come before the European Commission is slated to propose tough new rules for the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Last week, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said the plan would include a “rule of law mechanism” that would link funding to observing democratic principles.

“We see this as an intention to exert pressure on some states, as political pressure before talks,” Czaputowicz said. “For this reason, we have a very negative opinion about these ideas.”

Poland, with a population of around 38m, is the largest recipient of EU funds.

Czaputowicz attributed Poland’s strong economic performance to the government using the EU funds efficiently. But he also described it as a mistake to view Poland as a mere beneficiary of EU largesse, noting the bloc’s single market has also greatly benefited Western countries, allowing huge profits to flow back to investors.

“Poland opened its market. It gave an opportunity for a certain development of the Western economy, also in Poland,” Czaputowicz said. “What we are getting in the form of funds is a kind of compensation for the opening of the markets.”

But he also said his government supports the idea of increasing member states’ contributions into EU coffers to compensate for the loss of Britain’s input once it leaves the bloc.

As reported by AP, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, has been in a standoff for months with Poland after the ruling party overhauled Poland’s judicial system to give it greater say over the courts. Last year, the EU declared that Poland faces a “clear risk of a serious breach” of EU values, but the bloc has proven unable to persuade Warsaw to make significant changes to its laws.

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