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The EU releases blocked funds worth $6.7 billion for Poland as part of its post-pandemic recovery package

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union has disbursed 6.3 billion euros (about $6.7 billion) to Poland as part of the 27-nation bloc’s post-pandemic recovery fund, the largest single transfer ever to the country , a minister said on Monday. .

Poland’s former national conservative government, which was voted out of power in October, made changes to the judiciary that the EU said were at odds with democratic checks and balances, and therefore decided to block the money.

The European Commission had said at the time that Poland had to meet certain “milestones” to guarantee the independence of the judiciary to obtain the funds. Brussels stressed that an independent judiciary is essential for respecting the EU’s democratic standards, while some also argue that independent courts increase investor confidence in the country’s ability to settle trade disputes.

Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, Poland’s Minister of Finance and Regional Policy, welcomed the move, stressing that the value of EU membership goes beyond money.

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“Being in the EU is worth it, but the EU is not just about money, which our predecessors forgot,” she tweeted. “We are united by values: democracy, equal opportunities, the rule of law, civil liberties!”

Poland’s pro-European coalition of three center-left parties led by current Prime Minister Donald Tusk won parliamentary elections and took power in December. She succeeded the nationalist Law and Justice Party that had ruled for eight years and introduced changes to the legal system, reproductive rights and media, putting Poland on a collision course with the EU.

The Commission announced in February that it would release funding, relying on promises from the pro-EU Tusk to restore democratic standards.

The fund, known as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, was established in 2020 and a year later approved a 672.5 billion euro ($815 billion) recovery package to help member states recover faster from the coronavirus pandemic.

Poland is expected to receive 25.3 billion euros (about $26.9 billion) in grants and 34.5 billion euros (nearly $36.7 billion) in loans as part of a recovery plan after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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