The Polish minister said it was “suicidal” to vote in favor of the EU recovery fund
The Polish finance minister has called on the country’s political parties to vote in favor of the EU recovery fund, and it would be “suicidal” to vote because Warsaw would lose cheap funding essential to boosting the economy.
Poland is still one of a dozen EU countries that have not ratified the EU’s own resources decision, which allows for a regular EU loan to finance a € 750 million pandemic. recovery fund. It is threatening to turn the issue into a political crisis for Warsaw, with a Conservative-nationalist coalition party swearing that they will vote against it a bill on parliament that raises questions about the government’s survival
Failure by Poland to ratify this fund could theoretically return billions of euros of money to the rest of the EU this year, preventing Europe from returning to the third wave of coronavirus infections. Poland will receive 58 billion euros in grants and loans from the fund.
“At the end of the day, it will make sense for all politicians to be able to access these funds, something that the Polish economy and other European economies require,” said Tadeusz Koscinski, a former banker appointed finance minister under the law. and the Justice Party (PiS), he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
“So the anti-suicide movement would be to vote against it [own resources decision], because we will not get such funds outside the EU. At that price, too. “
The vote on the own resources bill – which is expected this month – is one of the flaws between the relationship between the judiciary and Justice and its closest ally, the United Kingdom, Zbigniew Ziobro, a tough justice minister.
However pleas From the PiS leadership, politicians in the United Kingdom have said they will not vote for the own resources bill, which would facilitate a joint loan that would leave Warsaw on the hook for other states ’debts. They also argue that the EU’s intention to link access to funding to compliance with the rule of law would allow Brussels to blackmail Warsaw.
However, many observers believe that the Polish position is an effort to determine PiS’s right-wing stance in the run-up to the 2023 parliamentary elections, as well as part of an increasingly heated debate between Ziobro’s allies and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. .
If Poland does not back down, the government, which has only a three-vote majority, will be subject to opposition votes to approve its own resources bill.
The main opposition group Civic Coalition has left open the possibility of voting against the bill if the government does not guarantee that the money it receives from the EU in Poland will be spent properly.
However, left-wing MPs have indicated that they are more likely to vote in favor. Their support would be enough to get the bill going.
Warsaw continues to negotiate with the European Commission on how it wants to spend part of its recovery fund and, in fact, what economic and administrative reforms it will undertake in exchange for a billion-euro investment.
Koscinski complained that Brussels called for a number of reform commitments, some of which were not important for immediate economic recovery, such as raising the retirement age and renewing the judiciary, the commission says it is a threat to the rule of law. .
“It’s like a constantly moving door,” he said.
While Brussels was focused on long-term structural changes, Warsaw was preparing some budget levers to boost consumption and investment when the pandemic disappeared.
“They [the commission] they come from a reform perspective, we come from a project perspective. We want people to start wasting money and getting the economy going. ”
Poland will have to present its recovery plan in Brussels by the end of the month. The government will receive a broader set of fiscal and social measures to implement after the pandemic situation eases, and they are expected to form the core of its economic message ahead of the next election.
Speculation has been based on large tax cuts for low-wage earners, as the income tax threshold has risen sharply, although the minister said it is just one of several proposals and recent decisions that have yet to be made.
Koscinski appeared sharp about Poland’s economic solutions, as infections have multiplied in recent weeks that will worsen the country’s hospital system.
He noted the government’s “conservative” growth forecast of 4 per cent this year after shrinking to 2.8 per cent last year – a slight success in EU terms. According to him, unemployment was still the lowest in Europe. Manufacturing and exports bounced sharply and tourism was less important than in other EU economies.
Critics say the government has been quieter this year with restrictions on social exclusion and said it would ease the cuts in mid-February, with a more contagious variant of B.1.1.7 first sequenced in the UK already circulating as a known mistake.
Koscinski has admitted that Poland has been “relatively mild” compared to some of its neighbors, but predicts that the infection rate will soon be “dramatically declining”.