Tuesday, October 19

Something has changed between the EU and Poland: punishing with European funds starts to work




The EU takes Poland to court. It doesn’t matter when you, reader, read this. It is a headline that is no longer news and that ranges from mining, to the rule of law to the telecommunications law. One of the most relevant dossiers has to do with Turow mines, which Poland refuses to close despite the ruling of the EU Court of Justice, which last May ordered the precautionary cessation of lignite mining activity while solving the complaint filed by the Czech Republic. Faced with the Polish rebellion, the European Justice has imposed a daily fine of 500,000 euros on Poland until the mine closes. However, the Brussels roadmap of linking the granting of European funds to the respect of fundamental rights, to which Warsaw has systematically imposed itself, is beginning to bear fruit.

Several Polish provinces, which had been a zone free of ‘LGTB ideology’, have backtracked in their declaration adopted in 2019 in the face of the threat of losing their share of the React-EU funds (Recovery aid for cohesion and the territories of Europe ), a package of additional cohesion funds under which Poland has received a total of more than 1,500 million euros. Together, the regions represent almost a quarter of Poland’s population and land area. At the moment, as a result, only one of the five provinces threatened with losing EU funds, Łódź, has maintained its resolution.
Notes From Poland

Last July, the European Commission initiated a legal appeal against Poland for the rights of the LGTB community and last month it froze the funding of the five Polish regions. The Polish Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, had branded these pressures from Brussels as “economic terrorism” urging regional governments not to give in “to the blackmail of the EU”.

“Without the EU, Poland would be like Belarus today”

The first to turn back Swietokrzyskie, a province of 1.2 million inhabitants in southeastern Poland, amended its resolution to another in which it promoted “respect for the centuries-old tradition and culture of Poland” in relation to “equality and fair treatment.”

“I am bisexual. I live in a country where they hate me and don’t like me for who I am. This feeling is horrible, there are people who do not want me here just because of my sexual condition, “the environmental activist and student told Europa Hoy Paulina Pietrzykowska (19 years old), which highlights how after each march in favor of gay rights it is recommended on social networks not to go home alone.

Like her, thousands of young Poles yearn to study abroad, not so much because of their future work but because of their personal situation.

So and everything, so much for Paulina as for your partner Kate they breathe relieved that their country is part of the European Union. “The EU is very important to us because of the idea that although Poland has its borders, it is part of a larger project,” says Paulina. Kasia is more direct: “If we were not in the EU, Poland would follow in the footsteps of its neighboring Russian neighbors: Belarus and Ukraine. We would be much more behind.

Since the beginning of 2019, in Poland there have been more than 80 cases in which regions, counties or municipalities have passed resolutions declaring themselves free from the so-called ‘LGBT ideology’, or have adopted ‘Regional charters of family rights’ or Discriminatory provisions for single parent and LGBTI families.

What is at stake in the conflict is money from EU funds. This is happening at a time when the European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for the acceptance of same-sex couples and marriage throughout the European Union.

In another statement on September 14, this one on the rights of Lgtbiq people in the EU (adopted with 387 votes in favor, 161 against and 123 abstentions), the European Parliament defended that Europeans should be able to fully exercise their rights, including the right to free movement throughout the Union. The resolution establishes that registered marriages or unions formed in a member state must be recognized in all of them in a uniform way, and spouses and partners of the same sex must receive the same treatment as those of the opposite sex.


Brussels is preparing to take the first steps to implement its new conditionality mechanism of the rule of law starting this month, and for the defense of the EU values ​​contained in Article 2 of the EU Treaty, according to informs the FT.

Linking respect for the rule of law with the distribution of funds has been the centerpiece of the EU’s east-west disagreements for more than a year. As the Polish MEP Lukasz Kohut commented to this newspaper, in the summer of 2020, in the negotiations of the heads of state regarding recovery funds, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki He put the conditionality clause before any other issue that affected the country.

Last July, the plenary session of the European Parliament asked the Commission to quickly investigate any possible infringement of the principles of the rule of law “that could seriously affect or affect the sound financial management of the Union budget”, noting that “the situation in some Member States it already justified immediate action. ‘ According to the resolution, the budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and violations of the rule of law must be addressed without delay. October is the date set for the Commission to report on the first cases.

Existing instruments, especially the procedure of the
Article 7
To protect EU values, they have proven ineffective mainly due to the unanimity rule in the council that allows both Hungary and Poland to protect each other.

In the background, as reported by the specialized portal Politico, the European Commission may approve Poland’s recovery plan in November if Warsaw accepts certain legally binding objectives to restore its rule of law. The executive arm of the EU has been delaying the approval of the Polish project for months, which would mean access to 57 billion euros in loans and grants.

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