Government and opposition blame each other after Poland gets only 0.4% of EU ammo spending

Poland’s main opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS), has criticised the government after it was announced that Polish firms will receive only 0.4% of the EU’s newly announced spending package for boosting ammunition production.

However, the government has pointed out that applications for funding from the programme were made last year, when PiS was in power. Their arguments have been echoed by the chief of staff of President Andrzej Duda, who is normally a PiS ally.

A Better, Faster, Stronger #EUDefenceIndustry with

€1.1 billion➡️R&D Projects
€500 million➡️Ammunition Production
€310 million ➡️Common Defence Procurement

👉more details:

— Timo Pesonen (@TimoPesonen1) March 15, 2024

On Friday, the European Commission announced that it was allocating €500 million to increase ammunition production in the bloc. However, of 31 projects that will be funded under the scheme, only one, worth €2.1 million, will be carried out by a Polish firm.

That outcome was criticised by Mariusz Błaszczak, deputy leader of PiS who served as defence minister from 2018 until last year.

“Donald ‘King of Europe’ Tusk arranged for Poland an entire 0.42% of the EU ammunition production program,” tweeted Błaszczak sarcastically, referring to the current prime minister. He noted that German firms had received €85 million and Hungarian ones €27 million.

Donald „Król Europy” Tusk załatwił dla Polski całe 0,42% z unijnego programu produkcji amunicji. Inicjatywa Komisji Europejskiej jest słuszna i potrzebna. Tylko dlaczego z przekazanych 500 mln euro dla europejskich firm zbrojeniowych na zwiększenie produkcji amunicji…

— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) March 16, 2024

However, in response to Błaszczak’s tweet, the defence ministry’s current spokesman, Janusz Sejmej, noted that applications for the EU ammunition programme were submitted under the former PiS government.

“We have exactly as many grants for ammunition production as you left behind,” wrote Sejmej. “Of the three [Polish] companies that applied to the programme…the fact that only one got it should be a [cause of] shame for you.”

Błaszczak’s successor as head of the ministry, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, told TV station Polsat News that applications for the programme had already closed when the current government took office in December and after that “unfortunately there is not much that can be done”.

He added that they would apply for further rounds of such funding in future and try to “learn from the mistakes of our predecessors”. State assets minister Borys Budka called for Błaszczak and others from PiS to face trial for their neglect in securing the financing.

Za zaniechania dotyczące braku grantów dla polskich zakładów zbrojeniowych Błaszczak i reszta powinni stanąć przed Trybunałem Stanu. Wnioski do KE należało składać w okresie październik – grudzień 2023 r. Wtedy oni zajmowali się kampanią wyborczą, a potem udawali, że tworzą rząd.

— Borys Budka (@bbudka) March 16, 2024

In response, Błaszczak confirmed that the applications had been submitted under the PiS government but noted that “the entire procedure for awarding grants was carried out when Poland was ruled by the [current] coalition”.

“The accusation that we submitted [applications from] too few companies is wrong, because, for example, the Hungarians received almost €30 million to be divided among three arms companies,” he added.

However, deputy defence minister Cezary Tomczyk accused Błaszczak of “spreading disinformation”. He noted that the three Polish firms that applied for the programme only requested a combined €11 million and that one of them had done so without even having a relevant contract with Błaszczak’s defence ministry.

Speaking today, foreign minister Radosław Sikorski also claimed that “one of the Polish applications was submitted to the wrong programme”.

Opozycja ma pretensje, że 🇩🇪dostali na amunicję 170 mln euro a 🇵🇱2 mln. Wnioski przyjmowano do 13/12/23.
3 nasze firmy wnioskowały o 15 razy mniej niż DE ostatecznie dostały. Z czego co najmniej 1 z tych polskich wnioskow złożono nie do tego programu.
Perfidni Teutoni, zła 🇪🇺.

— Radosław Sikorski 🇵🇱🇪🇺 (@sikorskiradek) March 17, 2024

Speaking to Polsat News on Sunday, Marcin Mastalerek, chief of staff to President Andrzej Duda, appeared to endorse the current government’s arguments.

“We couldn’t get as much as the Hungarians because we [only] applied for €11 million. Sometimes you have to admit your mistake and stop talking nonsense about the Germans,” said Mastalerek in response to a PiS politician appearing alongside him who had accused the EU of “distributing money to German factories”.

“€11 million was applied for and now we are surprised that the Germans received €100 million. We should have applied for €300 million,” added Mastalerek, though he said he did not want to say directly who was responsible for the failings.

President Duda is normally aligned with PiS and has often clashed with Tusk’s new government, though they have shown a united front when it comes to defence policy.

President @AndrzejDuda and Prime Minister @donaldtusk have jointly visited the White House for a meeting with @JoeBiden to mark the 25th anniversary of Poland joining NATO.

The talks focused on security, in particular support for Ukraine

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 12, 2024


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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