EC accepts operational arrangements on National Recovery Fund: official

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The European Commission has accepted operational arrangements related to the Polish National Recovery Fund (KPO), Polish government spokesperson Piotr Müller said on Wednesday, describing the development as a “significant, albeit not decisive step” towards the payment of funds sought by Warsaw.

The European Commission accepted operational arrangements for the Polish National Recovery Fund last Friday. This is a bilateral technical agreement that Poland and the European Commission still need to sign. The news was first broken by a Polish RMF FM radio correspondent and later by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

On Wednesday, Mr Müller said that the news was true. “I can confirm that the European Commission approved the operational arrangements,” he said. “However, this doesn't change the National Recovery Fund's reality just yet.”

He described the development as a “good step” but stressed that the Polish government continued “to watch prospective talks.”

According to PAP, signing the document on arrangements could take several weeks.

Mr. Müller stated that Poland's European Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk would travel to Brussels and lead the negotiations.

He added that the European Commission’s move “was a significant step, albeit not a decisive one in terms of paying out the funds.”

The European Commission approved the Polish National Recovery Fund in early June, which brought the EU closer to paying Poland EUR 23.9 bn in donations and EUR 11.5 bn in loans under the bloc’s Recovery Fund. The money, however, was not paid under the pretext of Poland’s judiciary situation was unsatisfactory.

The European Commission said that Poland’s plan included milestones related to important aspects of the independence of the judiciary, which are of particular importance to improve the investment climate and put in place the conditions for an effective implementation of the recovery and resilience plan.

The top executive body of the bloc added that Poland had to prove that the milestones were reached before any payment from the Recovery Fund could be issued.

One of the European Commission’s demands had been that the Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court be liquidated – a request that was met in mid July.

In late July, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told the Polish daily “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” that although liquidating the Disciplinary Chamber was an important step, the overhaul of the Supreme Court Act did not guarantee justices the freedom to question the status of another justice without the risk of being held liable to disciplinary action.

The EC head stressed that Poland had to fully comply with the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which have not taken effect yet. The official stressed the fact that the right to issue rulings has not yet been restored for suspended judges and that the daily financial penalty continues to apply.