EU approves first €5 billion for Poland from recovery funds

The EU has approved over €5 billion (21.6 billion zloty) in grants and loans for Poland from the bloc’s post-pandemic recovery fund. It will be the first payment to Poland from the so-called Recovery and Resilience Facility (RFF), with Brussels until now withholding funds over rule-of-law concerns.

However, the money in question comes from part of the RFF that was added last year and is separate from the previously frozen funds. Known as RePowerEU, it was introduced in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and is designed to help member states end reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

EU ministers of finance adopted implementing decision approving the recovery and resilence plan of Poland.

The plan includes #RepowerEU chapter focuses on supporting the energy transition and joining forces for a more resilient energy system.

— Poland in the EU (@PLPermRepEU) December 8, 2023

Poland applied for RePowerEU funds earlier this year and, in November, its then minister for funds and regional policy, Grzegorz Puda, confirmed that the European Commission was set to approve the application.

The commission did so later that month, meaning that only approval from national governments at the Council of the European Union was needed. Today, that approval was given, with Poland’s permanent representation to the EU confirming the news in a statement issued on social media.

The Gazeta Wyborcza daily reports that all countries voted to approve Poland’s plans apart from The Netherlands, which abstained.

The EU is set to approve the first €5bn for Poland from its post-pandemic recovery funds, a minister has confirmed.

He says the decision is thanks to the „very effective work” of the current government and not because @donaldtusk is set to come to power

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 16, 2023

Among the uses to which the new funds will be put are improving energy networks in rural areas, creating energy storage facilities, and building a 250-kilometre gas pipeline from the coastal city of Gdańsk – where a new liquefied natural gas terminal is planned – to the inland south of the country, reports broadcaster TVN.

In total, Poland has applied for around €25 billion from RePowerEU, reports Gazeta Wyborcza. Just over €5 billion of that will now be transferred as advance payments that are not subject to any conditions, such as meeting rule-of-law milestones, adds the newspaper.

The first tranche, of around half that money, can be expected in the first weeks of 2024, with the remainder due by the middle of the year.

“We can confidently say that over €5 billion is being released at this point, we can now use it,” said Poland’s finance minister, Andrzej Kosztowniak, quoted by financial news service

Donald Tusk, who is likely to lead Poland’s next government, met today with @EU_Commission President @vonderleyen in Brussels.

Afterwards, he said that concrete steps to restore the rule of law must be taken before the EU releases Poland’s frozen funds

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 25, 2023

Kosztowniak and the rest of the current Polish government are, however, likely to leave office on Monday, when the current temporary administration faces a vote of confidence in parliament that it is almost certain to lose.

That will then open the way for a new, more EU-friendly government made up of three opposition groups that won a majority in October’s parliamentary elections. Their candidate for prime minister, Donald Tusk, visited Brussels last month for talks on unlocking frozen EU funds.

He has promised to roll back the judicial policies of the outgoing government that have repeatedly led the outgoing government into conflict with Brussels over the rule of law.

Donald Tusk has confirmed the names of members of his government, which is likely to take office next week.

Radosław Sikorski will return as foreign minister while Marzena Czarnecka will head a newly created industry ministry based in Silesia

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 8, 2023

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Kiefer/Flickr (under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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