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UPDATE: Polish MPs back bill to access EU cash, vote highlights political rifts

05.05.2021 07:41
In a crunch vote, Polish deputies have approved a bill needed to unlock a stream of cash from Brussels, including money to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.
Audio
PM Mateusz Morawiecki addresses parliament on Tuesday.
PM Mateusz Morawiecki addresses parliament on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Rafał Guz

The bill, which has caused divisions in Poland's conservative ruling coalition, was opposed by most deputies from Solidarna Polska, a junior partner in government, but made it through the lower house with the support of a swathe of opposition lawmakers.

At a special sitting on Tuesday, the legislation was backed by 290 members of parliament, while 33 voted against it and 133 abstained.

The bill is essential for the country to receive more than EUR 23 billion in subsidies and over EUR 34 billion in loans from the European Union’s massive COVID-19 recovery fund.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki thanked those deputies "who rose above party-political calculations" to approve the legislation.

Among those who backed the bill were lawmakers from Law and Justice, the senior party in the ruling coalition, and from several opposition groupings: the Left, the rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL), and the conservative Polska 2050.

All but three MPs from the centre-right opposition Civic Platform party abstained.

Governing coalition divided

The Solidarna Polska party, which is in government, came out against ratifying the recovery plan, concerned that a mechanism tying the payout of EU funds to the observance of the rule of law could be used by Brussels to interfere in Polish domestic affairs and encroach on the country's sovereignty.

Meanwhile, after negotiations with Morawiecki, Poland's Left opposition grouping announced it would back the recovery plan if the government agreed to measures including a process to monitor how EU funds are spent.

Opposition split too

The Left was slammed by centre-right opposition politicians, who accused it of propping up a divided governing coalition and sparing it the embarrassment of failing to get a key piece of legislation through parliament.

EU member states in December gave the green light for the bloc to borrow EUR 750 billion (USD 906 billion) and provide a cash injection for economies left reeling by the coronavirus crisis.

For the ambitious plan to be put into action, all 27 EU member states need to ratify a decision to increase the bloc's resources.

(pk)

Source: PAP/IAR

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