Ursula von der Leyen came to Poland to announce the EU executive's acceptance of the Polish recovery plan, which brings Warsaw closer to receiving billions in EU cash, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
She met with Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and President Andrzej Duda.
‘Success for Poland is success for EU’
During a joint news conference in Konstancin-Jeziorna near Warsaw, the Polish president thanked von der Leyen for “doing so much to make this breakthrough happen.”
Duda said he was also grateful to Morawiecki and his Cabinet “for their negotiations with Brussels,” and he thanked Polish lawmakers “for their work in parliament.”
Duda told reporters he felt "enormous satisfaction" that his bill to reshape Poland's Supreme Court had "contributed to a consensus both in the Polish parliament and with Brussels."
The president said that “what constitutes a success for Poland, is also a success for the EU, and vice versa,” the PAP news agency reported.
‘EU funds will benefit Polish economy and society’
Meanwhile, Morawiecki said that the EUR 35.4 billion from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) “will largely enable energy and climate transformation.”
He added: “I am convinced that this will benefit the Polish economy and society, and combat the strategic threat of Europe's dependence on raw materials from Russia.”
Decarbonisation, energy security
Von der Leyen said that Poland’s recovery plan, when backed with EU funds, “will contribute to the decarbonisation of Poland's economy while boosting its energy security.”
She stressed that “the approval of this plan is linked to clear commitments by Poland on the independence of the judiciary.”
What Poland must do to access EU cash
“These commitments, taken in the form of milestones, must be fulfilled before any payment can be made,” she said.
The key commitment is dismantling a controversial disciplinary chamber within Poland’s Supreme Court.
The Polish Sejm, or lower house of parliament, last week voted through a bill to strike down the disciplinary chamber.
The legislation had been proposed by President Duda.
On Wednesday, the bill was approved, with a few modifications, by the Senate, the upper house.
Other commitments are changing the judicial disciplinary system and reinstating judges who have been suspended under existing regulations.
If Poland lives up to these commitments, it stands to receive EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience funds, officials said.
Polish help for Ukraine: 'History will not forget'
Von der Leyen thanked the Polish people for welcoming millions of refugees from war-torn Ukraine with “outstanding generosity.”
“You have welcomed more than three-and-a-half million refugees with open arms,” she said, adding that “history will not forget” such solidarity.
Poland has taken in more than 3.77 million refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Polish Border Guard agency reported on Thursday.
Source: PAP, ec.europa.eu