BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is likely to approve on Wednesday Poland’s multi-billion-euro plan for rebuilding the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been blocked by a dispute over Warsaw’s rule-of-law practices, EU officials said.
Under the plan, Warsaw country could eventually get 23.9 billion euros in European Union grants and 11.5 billion in loans over several years.
“The approval is likely this afternoon or tomorrow morning,” one senior EU official said.
The EU executive’s sign-off will not trigger any immediate disbursements because Poland will first have to reach agreed milestones and targets, some of which will be linked to agreed changes to country’s judicial system.
Approval has been on hold since the second quarter of 2021 because of concerns about the independence of the country’s judiciary from the eurosceptic and nationalist ruling PiS party and Warsaw’s refusal to comply with rulings of the EU court.
But after months of negotiations and first changes made to the court system made by Poland, the Commission and Warsaw have come to an agreement, officials said.
To clear the way, Poland’s parliament voted last Thursday in favour of a bill that would replace a contested disciplinary chamber for judges – which the EU’s highest court had ruled was illegal – with a new body.
Poland will also have to end or reform its disciplinary regime for courts and start a process of reinstalling judges who were removed from work.
Before any money is paid out, the Commission will check if the changes agreed with Warsaw have been implemented, EU officials said.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by John Chalmers)