Ursula von der Leyen during the debate at Princeton University, she was asked about the money for Poland from the national reconstruction plan and about how the EU can deal with the authorities in Warsaw. She thanked her for this question saying that it gave her an opportunity explanations of “the Polish issue and, of course, also of Hungary”.
– What can an institution like the European Commission do? We are the guardian of the Treaty, so we have some legal tools to protect it. The problem we have with the Polish government, it is our firm belief that the independence of the judiciary is no longer there. This is difficult, said von der Leyen.
“That is why,” she said, “we use our legal tools, because in the end, if the rule of law is upheld, the institutions must also follow the rule of law.”
Addressing the Polish author of the question, von der Leyen emphasized: You asked what we could do to get rid of the government. This is not our job, it belongs to the people. But we must defend the rule of law in Poland.
– What are we able to do? We can use breach procedures, which we do, but they continue. Now is the question of money – she added, referring to the EU’s Next Generation EU fund. As she pointed out, it is a “contract” between the European Commission and the Member State to carry out reforms.
– As for Poland, we said that there is a judicial order to restore the independence of the judiciary and you have to adapt to it. We want our contract to state that if you do X, Y and Z, then we will withdraw money – explained the head of the European Commission.
– We closed the contract. People were partially dissatisfied that we had finalized the contract, and now it is showing what I was afraid of and what was to be expected; Poland, the Polish government does not want to change the law in the way we wrote it in the contract, to restore the independence of the judiciary, she added.
Von der Leyen: Therefore, we cannot and will not be able to donate any money. These are the facts. What is it causing? Of course it’s hard. You can imagine it; the narrative of the Polish government is that bureaucrats in Brussels do not want to give us money, and we deserve it because, for example, we help refugees from Ukraine.
She estimated that it was “combining two things that have nothing to do with each other”.
– Poles are great, how they opened their hearts and homes to refugees from Ukraine, they are phenomenal – she added. She praised the hospitality of Poles and assessed: This is something other than a contract with the Polish government that we will withdraw money if they carry out reforms.
The recording of her statement was posted on Twitter by correspondent Tomasz Bielecki.
In June, the European Commission adopted the Polish National Reconstruction Plan (KPO). This decision opened the way for the approval of this document also by the EU Council, which was the condition for paying Poland funds from the Reconstruction Fund. The money has not yet been paid out.
SEE ALSO: What about KPO money for Poland? Prime Minister: Application within two months
Von der Leyen during the debate, she was also asked about the parliamentary elections in Italy in the context of the fact that – as noted – among the candidates are politicians “close” to Vladimir Putin.
– We will see the vote in Italy. There were also elections in Sweden. If things go in a difficult direction we have tools, as in the case of Poland and Hungary – replied the head of the European Commission, quoted by the Ansa agency.
She also added: My approach is that we work with any democratic government that is ready to work with us.
– So we will see how these elections go; voland the people to whom governments must respond play an important role von der Leyen announced.
Her words on “tools” commented leader of the right-wing League, Matteo Salvini, whose grouping is part of the center-right coalition which is leading in all the polls before the elections.
– It is a miserable threat, an uninvited interference. This lady represents all Europeans, her salary is paid by all of us. It is a disgusting and arrogant threat – added the leader of the League, announcing that the parliamentary group of the League would submit a motion of no confidence in the European Parliament against the President of the Commission.
– Italians vote on Sunday, not Brussels bureaucrats Salvini added.
– If I were the president of the Commission, I would take care of energy bills – said the leader of the League in an interview with the Canale 5 TV station.