Euro-Skeptic Poland Gives Green Light to EU Virus Relief Package

Poland ratified the European Union’s pandemic stimulus package, overcoming a rift in the government to help open the taps for hundreds of billions of euros to flow to all member states, Bloomberg News reported. The approval banished worries that the bloc’s largest eastern nation could torpedo the 800 billion-euro ($961 billion) package after Poland teamed up with Hungary in December to protest efforts by Brussels to attach strings to the money based on adherence to democratic rule of law. The vote also laid bare a dispute over the EU that threatened to break apart the three-party ruling alliance and potentially trigger early elections. Lawmakers from the opposition Left threw their support behind the government-leading Law & Justice Party and another junior partner to push the measure through on Tuesday. The third coalition force, United Poland, voted against the package. Its leader, Zbigniew Ziobro, argues the aid program will leave the country of 38 million people -- the EU’s sixth poorest -- on the hook for the debts of other members. Ziobro argued that it will also expose Poland to “blackmail” over after EU members approved rules to cut off aid to countries deemed in violation of the bloc’s norms. He said on Tuesday that such differences sometimes happen within the coalition, even though they vote together 99% of the time. “We can’t waste this opportunity,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told parliament ahead of the vote. “This money will decide on the development of Poland in the next 10, or even 20 years. The funds will play huge role in Poland’s catching up with the most advanced countries.” Read more.