Tue, 03 Oct 2023

Warsaw will square up to EU leadership in a row over funding, a ruling party politician said

Senior officials in the Polish conservative Law and Order (PiS) party have blasted the EU for what they perceive as a broken obligation to release billions of euros in funding, which had been frozen by Brussels as pressure on Warsaw over its perceived downslide in rule-of-law issues. If squeezed further, Poland will use every opportunity to disrupt the work of the European Commission in retaliation, one politician has vowed.

If Brussels presses Warsaw to the wall, "we will have no choice but to pull out all the cannons in our arsenal and open fire," Krzysztof Sobolewski, the party secretary-general said on Monday, in an interview with Polish Radio.

Poland's government will be guided by the principles of "you reap what you sow" and "tooth for a tooth" when dealing with the European Commission, he said. Warsaw may use its veto power in the EU, form a coalition to oust Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president, and otherwise leverage its place in the union to throw a wrench into the gears of the union's executive branch, he suggested.

Sobolewski was commenting on an interview that party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski had given last week to the weekly magazine Sieci. In it, he expressed the same sentiments about Brussels, accusing it of breaking a deal it had with Warsaw and of secretly serving as a vehicle for Berlin to subjugate the Eastern European nation.

The PiS comments referred to an agreement with the EU under which Warsaw was supposed to receive some 35 billion euro in grants and loans under the bloc's pandemic relief program, money frozen amid a row over the rule of law in Poland. The European Commission is demanding that the Polish government roll back some of its reforms, which Brussels believes are pushing the country towards authoritarianism.

Last month, the Polish parliament passed legislation to address some of the issues, but the Commission said it still had a number of concerns about the independence of the Polish judiciary branch.

"Since the European Commission did not fulfil its obligations towards Poland, we have no reason to fulfil our obligations towards the EU," Kaczynski told the magazine.

He added that Poland "had to try" to reconcile with Brussels, if only to bring clarity on "what the game is about." The outcome would not have been different if Warsaw had given more ground, he believes, since Brussels would then have found other "excuses."

The EU is threatening Poland with sanctions under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which allows for the suspension of rights of the targeted nation and the withholding of funding from the joint European budget.

Sobolewski warned that Warsaw "does not rule out any possibilities and solutions" in confronting Brussels, but stressed that the country has no intention of leaving the EU, contrary to what some critics of the government in the Polish opposition claimed.


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