EU funds for Poland released: too soon?

Having concluded that the government in Warsaw has introduced the necessary reforms and taken key steps towards ensuring the independence of the judiciary, the EU Commission has formally released 137 billion in frozen funds for Poland. The move still requires the approval of the other member states. Muted reactions from commentators.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A political decision

Rezczpospolita sees no formal reasons for the release:

“Such a decision is primarily driven by political motives: the desire to show other countries that are governed by populists (Italy) or could be governed by populists (France) that it pays off to respect the rule of law. But there is also a more personal logic. Ursula von der Leyen needs the support of Donald Tusk to secure a second mandate as head of the European Commission.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Double standards

The Commission is taking quite a leap of faith, comments the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“It is releasing 137 billion euros in the dispute over the rule of law, although so far Poland has basically only made political promises to fulfil the requested reforms. Particularly regarding the judiciary there is little prospect of the new beginning in Warsaw being reflected in the legislation any time soon. ... For years it was argued in the EU that the rule of law proceedings served to objectively protect the EU budget and had nothing to do with party politics. But when different standards are applied to a pro-EU government in Poland than to its predecessors who fought 'Brussels' it creates the impression that the opposite is the case.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Populism still alive and kicking

Poland is still far from being a liberal state despite the change of government, political scientist Jan Zielonka contends in Diário de Notícias:

“The French and German governments are delighted about the return of former EU Council president Donald Tusk as Polish prime minister, but are concerned about his internal populist threats. Meanwhile, in capitals like Rome, Bratislava and Budapest, the decline of populism in Poland is viewed with concern. ... The fact is, however, that although Poland is in a better position than it was five months ago, the return of the liberals to power does not automatically mean the end of illiberal politics.”

Népszava (HU) /

Blackmail not even necessary

Népszava voices concern about Hungary's future:

“Warsaw's economic lead [over Budapest] is growing, especially since the European Commission announced last week that it will release EU funds for Poland. ... And the Tusk government didn't even have to blackmail Brussels. The contrast couldn't be more glaring, because we can't even be sure that the Commission will ever release the 20 billion euros still blocked for Hungary. The prospects are not encouraging. ... Poland is moving further and further away from Hungary. And the other European countries have long moved out of sight.”