Poland facing loss of billions in EU funds

Because Poland has failed to comply with all the requirements of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the EU Commission is threatening to withhold payments from the bloc's Cohesion Fund. This was first reported by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita with reference to confidential documents. If Poland does not fulfil the agreed conditions for the disbursement of EU funds, billions in payments could be withheld. The press is alarmed.

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Onet.pl (PL) /

Hungary scenario looming

Warsaw is being grossly negligent in downplaying the problem, the online portal Onet.pl frets:

“The European Commission took an important step a month ago to bring Hungary in line with the community's rule of law standards by proposing to cut EU funds for Budapest by 7.5 billion euros. If Hungary fails to implement the expected reforms, the EU Council could vote in December to suspend part of the EU funding for the country. ... Such a scenario is not on the cards for Poland. Not yet. The prime minister had better not take this matter lightly, because if Brussels follows through on its threats, Poland will suffer enormous damage.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Government has lost its way

Rzeczpospolita criticises the Polish government's confrontational stance towards its critics:

“The government camp has completely lost its way on this matter. Instead of explaining to the public the protocol of its disagreement with the European Commission and showing on which points they are right in the new dispute over funds from the next EU budget, they are serving up propaganda slogans about how it will all work out and launching fierce attacks against anyone who claims otherwise. This is not only unprofessional but also extremely risky, because Poland's future is at stake.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

PiS's room for manoeuvre is limited

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explains why withholding the cohesion funds would be particularly bad for Kaczynski's party:

“The rural areas, where it has a strong foothold, also benefit from these funds. In the dispute over the independence of the Polish judiciary, the PiS is increasingly approaching a point where its nationalistically charged campaign against 'Brussels' is incurring real costs for the country's citizens. But among these citizens EU membership remains popular, so the PiS's room for manoeuvre is more limited than it perhaps realises.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Brussels must stand firm

The EU must not yield vis-à-vis the governments in Poland and Hungary, warns the Financial Times:

“The power of the purse Brussels is now wielding in earnest is clearly focusing minds in Warsaw and Budapest. Having flexed its financial muscles and seen a reaction, Brussels is well-advised to stick to this course. There are temptations to avoid confrontation at a time when an external enemy is trying to divide Europe. That would be a mistake. The external threat to its liberal democratic model makes it all the more important for Europe to keep getting tougher on the threats closer to home.”