The 35.4 billion euro (862 billion crowns) pandemic aid package is intended to finance the decarbonization of industry, increase energy independence and improve the investment climate in Poland.
“The approval of this plan comes with clear commitments from Poland on the independence of the judiciary, which it will have to meet before any payments can be made,” von der Leyen said in June.
As conditions for the payment of the financial package, she made the abolition of the Disciplinary Chamber at the Supreme Court, changes to the judicial disciplinary system and the reappointment of judges who were removed due to the controversial change of rules.
In June, the Polish Sejm fulfilled the first condition when it abolished the aforementioned disciplinary chamber. But human rights groups and activists did not consider this to be enough. Although the Commission has approved the plan, it is blocking the payment of the first benefit because, according to it, the reforms are still not satisfactory.
If the European Commission pushes us to the wall, we will have no choice but to pull out every weapon in our arsenal and open fire
“We have shown maximum goodwill, but our concessions have yielded nothing,” Jarosław Kaczyński told the pro-government news site Sieci. According to him, it is the EC that violated the agreement, and it is time for it to “learn a lesson”.
“We’ll Pull Out All Guns”
“If the European Commission pushes us to the wall, we will have no choice but to pull out all the weapons in our arsenal and open fire,” said the secretary general of the ruling PiS party, Krzysztof Sobolewski, in an interview with Polish state radio.
According to him, Poland would act according to the saying “an eye for an eye”, when it would veto all EU initiatives. It would eventually form a political coalition that would oust Commission President von der Leyen and dismiss the rest of the members.
Opposition politicians warn that the belligerent rhetoric of members of the ruling party may be preparation for leaving the European Union. However, according to Politico, the majority of Poles support remaining in the EU. Sobolewski assured that Poland under the leadership of PiS will not leave the Union. Rather, he says, he wants to change it to a “union of European states”.
“The more Kaczyński abuses the EU to intimidate (Poles), the more he is ridiculed,” said Grzegorz Schetyna of the Civic Platform opposition party. “No one will take seriously a man who prefers poverty, lawlessness, the destruction of the independence of the courts, and ultimately Polexit to big money for the Poles (of Poland’s departure from the EU following the Brexit model – late order.),” the politician wrote on Twitter.
They complain about bullying
EC Vice President Frans Timmermans voted against the initial approval of the aid package. He spent four years trying to fix the independence of Poland’s judiciary, and this year’s reforms were not satisfactory, he said. “I believe that the legislation prepared and voted by the Polish parliament does not match the milestones we have set, and I am in the minority with my colleagues on this,” he told The Guardian in June.
His EC colleague Margethe Vestager did not raise her hand for the plan for the same reason, and her colleague, Czech Vice President Věra Jourová, is also against it, although it is not clear how she voted.
The president of the Polish Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, accused the Commission of “bullying” Poland. “I don’t understand why we are creating such enthusiasm in Brussels,” she commented to Gazeta Prawna. “After Ursula von der Leyen’s recent statements, I have the impression that this is not about the rule of law. I just want this bullying of Poland to end,” she added.
The European Union has already paid out more than 100 billion euros (2.4 trillion crowns) to member states for recovery after the coronavirus and plans to send up to eight times as much to the twenty-seven countries. In addition to Poland, he also has disputes with Hungary, for the same reason – demands for the establishment of the rule of law.