Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

The EU is unlikely to approve Poland’s application for tens of billions of euros in pandemic recovery funding before the end of the year, the commission’s executive vice-president said, in a sign of the rift between the two sides over judicial independence. stay. .

The European Commission is also unlikely to be ready to agree on a bid by Hungary for its own share of the EU’s € 800 billion next-generation funding by 31 December, said Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice-president of the commission. , added.

The two countries both submitted bids for the recovery funds in May, but EU approval of the plans was severely delayed due to deep differences over the rule of law. Brussels urges both nations to join reforms that address long-standing EU legal issues as part of the milestones and targets they must agree on under the recovery programs.

Diplomats have seen signs of progress in dialogue between the commission and Warsaw in recent weeks, even if Hungary’s plan remains firm. But when he spoke after meetings of finance ministers on Tuesday, Dombrovskis reduced the chances of any approaching agreements.

“The work is underway. . . “It is unlikely that we will be able to finalize this work this year,” he said. “Movement on the fabric is what really determines the speed. Once we are essentially there, we can move forward. ”

Delays after the end of the year mean that both countries cannot guarantee prepayments worth 13 percent of their total bid. That money will rather be folded into the overall payment plans when an agreement is finally reached.

Poland has applied for € 36 billion in loans and grants from the EU’s Covid-19 recovery fund, but Warsaw and Brussels have been at odds for years. Law and Justice reform of the judiciary.

Poland is under pressure from the commission to demolish a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges that the European Court of Justice has ruled illegal. The Polish Constitutional Court also ruled in October that parts of EU law were incompatible with the country’s constitution, which further increased interests.

The commission, meanwhile, wants Budapest to address alleged shortcomings and weaknesses in the country’s procurement rules, which have raised concerns about corruption related to the distribution of EU funds.

Brussels has also considered using a new tool in its legal arsenal that will enable it to withhold EU funding where there are breaches of supremacy that pose a risk to the union’s budget.

Hungary and Poland tried challenge that regime in court. Last week, those claims suffered a serious setback after a legal opinion from the EU’s Advocate General recommended that the two countries’ legal action be rejected.

The Advocate General has found that the new rule of law conditionality mechanism, which seeks to protect the bloc’s budget against violations by member states, is legally sound and compatible with EU treaties.

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