EU to unblock up to 137 bln euros in funds for Poland, says von der Leyen

EU to unblock up to 137 bln euros in funds for Poland, says von der Leyen


EU to unblock up to 137 bln euros in funds for Poland, says von der Leyen

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will get access to up to 137 billion euros ($148.28 billion) in European Union funds, the head of the EU executive said on Friday, after the new government began implementing reforms it says will restore judicial independence.

Unblocking the cash was a promise made by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's pro-European coalition governement, and gaining access to it will provide an investment boost for an economy that has been buffeted by the fallout of the war in Ukraine and is weighed down by weakness in big trading partner Germany.

"I have good news," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference in Warsaw. "Next week the college will come forward with two decisions on European funds that are currently blocked for Poland. These decisions will lead to up to 137 billion euros for Poland."

Poland will gain access to around 60 billion euros in funds designed to help countries bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and transition away from fossil fuels.

Warsaw will also be able to tap around 76.5 billion euros in cohesion funds designed to help raise living standards in the European Union's poorest members.

"It's a ton of money, we will use well," Tusk said.

The previous government under the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party was embroiled in a long-running spat with the EU over reforms that critics said increased political influence over the courts.

Brussels blocked Warsaw's access to the funds as a result of the row and said Poland had to meet milestones on judicial independnce to unfreeze it.

Poland has already accessed 5 billion euros that were not dependent on rule-of-law conditions.

The new government's task has been complicated by the fact that President Andrzej Duda, who can veto laws, is a PiS ally and the fact that the party has loyalists in important positions in the judicial system.

However, EU officials have welcomed Poland's action plan on restoring the rule of law.