Polish PM wants EU to give $37 billion pandemic recovery cash to military
Poland is looking to use money from the European Recovery Fund, intended to help restore the country’s economy after Covid-19, to finance its army, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a post on Twitter on Thursday.
“The dispute with the European Commission must be over,” insisted the PM. “The real conflict is being played out in the east of Poland, and the funds from the KPO [National Recovery Plan] mean more money for the Polish army” he stressed, referring to the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
In June, the European Commission approved the so-called Polish Plan to provide some €35 billion ($37 billion) to reboot the country’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That funds were to be allocated from the €750 billion ($799 billion) EU economic post-pandemic recovery package.
The cash tranche has, however, been blocked by the EU due to a long-running standoff between Warsaw and Brussels over rule-of-law concerns. Polish officials insist they have already met the EU’s demands and implemented several judicial reforms, arguing that the money is being withheld for political reasons.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on the other hand, has insisted the changes introduced by Warsaw are “not enough” and that more needs to be done to ensure the independence of Polish judges.
Meanwhile, Poland has recently started making record military purchases which include tanks, aircraft, artillery and air defense systems and concluding large contracts with manufacturers from the US and South Korea.
Earlier this month, the Polish Defense Ministry urged citizens to undergo military training and sought to enroll up to 8,000 volunteers as young as 15 to teach them combat and survival skills during the winter.
Poland wants “to train as many people as possible” to be prepared for a “crisis,” said Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, noting that some 4,000 people had already gone through the first phase of the “Train the Army” program in October and November.
Back in July, Blaszczak stated that Poland wants to have the most capable land force in Europe and aims to boost the strength of its armed forces from 143,500 to 300,000 soldiers. Warsaw also intends to spend 3% of its GDP on defense – one of the highest levels among NATO members.