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4 EU countries to state concerns on Polish recovery plan approval

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The Polish recovery plan is set to be approved by EU finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Friday — but four countries will be calling on the Commission to closely monitor Warsaw’s implementation of its reform commitments, particularly regarding the independence of the judiciary.

“We call on the Commission to carefully assess the satisfactory fulfilment of the relevant milestones before taking a decision on the approval of any payments,” Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden wrote in a voting declaration seen by POLITICO Wednesday.

The Commission approved Poland’s spending plan under the bloc’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, paving the way for it to receive up to €36 billion in grants and loans upon completion of a number of reforms and investments. In particular, the country committed to abolishing a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges and setting up an independent review process for judges that were disciplined by that chamber. These two reforms will be a precondition to any payment

Regarding the rule of law, the four countries expressed “concern” that judges won’t be automatically reinstated, and added that if there are “serious deviations” from the agreed reforms, any country may request to escalate the issue to EU leaders — a “handbreak” clause that was requested by the Netherlands at the time of negotiations on the recovery fund’s rules.

No country is expected to vote against approval, but the Netherlands will abstain, Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag told the Dutch parliament on Tuesday. Denmark’s parliamentary procedure determining how it will vote will end Thursday morning. All other countries are expected to vote in favor. 

The approval comes just as Poland is set to lift its veto on the EU’s plans to implement a global corporate tax rate of 15 percent for multinational companies. Warsaw’s support should give the EU the unanimous support it needs to pass that tax initiative, which G20 leaders rubberstamped last fall together alongside a levy for the world’s 100 biggest companies.

Poland has denied that the recovery fund and the tax deal are linked.

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