Poland’s left-wing opposition has offered support to the conservative government in ratifying the EU coronavirus recovery fund, though only if six conditions are met. Without opposition votes, there may not be a parliamentary majority to pass the plan.
The €750 billion recovery fund, which includes around €58 billion for Poland, was agreed by European leaders last December alongside the EU budget. Poland and Hungary had previously threatened a veto if a mechanism linking funds to the rule of law was included.
But back at home, the Polish government has faced a rebellion within its own ranks. Eurosceptic junior coalition partner United Poland (Solidarna Polska) has opposed the fund, with its leader, justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, saying that it would mean accepting the “diktat of Brussels and Berlin”.
Today, the leaders of the three parties that make up The Left (Lewica) grouping – the second largest opposition force in parliament – announced that they may be willing to vote in favour of the recovery fund.
However, before doing so they called for six demands to be added to the fund. These include the creation of 75,000 affordable homes for rent, €1 billion for district hospitals, €400 million for firms in struggling industries (including hotels and restaurants), and a committee to monitor expenditure of the fund.
“All political forces should do everything” they can to ensure that EU funds come to Poland and that they are distributed “sensibly, wisely and under social oversight”, said Włodzimierz Czarzasty, one of The Left’s leaders, quoted by RMF24. Czarzasty invited the government for a meeting in parliament to discuss the issue.
Główne postulaty Lewicy do #KPO:
📌 Minimum 30% środków dla samorządów;
📌 75 tys. tanich mieszkań na wynajem;
📌 Miliard euro na szpitale powiatowe;
📌 400 mln euro dla zagrożonych firm;
📌 Komitet Monitorujący wydatki;
📌Szczegółowy plan wydatków z części pożyczkowej. pic.twitter.com/sSV0bdqfCK
— Lewica (@__Lewica) April 26, 2021
Government spokesman Piotr Müller welcomed The Left’s “constructive” position. “This is a positive signal and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will accept the invitation to a meeting,” said Müller, quoted by TVP Info. The meeting is reportedly set to take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Müller also noted that more than just the recovery fund was at stake. Legislation also needs to be passed allowing Poland to adopt the EU budget, “so this really relates to 770 billion zloty (€169 billion) for Poland”, he said.
The Left, however, faced criticism from elsewhere in the opposition. Katarzyna Lubnauer, leader of the liberal Modern (Nowoczesna) party, accused The Left of “throwing a lifebelt to a drowning person”. She said the only conditions offered should be the end of the government and new elections.
Mam 1 podstawowe – koniec Zjednoczonej Prawicy i nowe wybory.
I kontrola samorządów, środowisk przedsiębiorców i NGOsow nad wydatkowanie środków z FO.
— Katarzyna Lubnauer (@KLubnauer) April 26, 2021
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.