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France urges Brussels to GET TOUGH on Poland: New rules will withhold MONEY from EU rebels

Despite a meeting this week to quell tensions between the EU and Poland, a French minister has warned that Paris will not stand for Poland’s defiance of Brussels.

Speaking at a high-level conference on the EU budget for 2020-26, Nathalie Loiseau, a French European Affairs Minister, said “conditionality of funds was not a dirty word”. 

France is one of the countries urging Brussels to install new rules that withhold funds from countries who “violate European rule of law and values”.

This follows a meeting earlier this week between Poland’s new prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Both sides were hoping the discussions would help cool the row, which has prompted legal and political action against Poland.

Last month Poland became the first EU state to have an article 7 rule-of-law procedure launched against it.

Prior to this, the European Commission had criticised the Polish government’s interventions into the country’s justice system.

Mr Juncker and his Commision team argued that over a dozen laws passed in Poland undermined the independence of the judiciary. 

Mrs Loiseau said new budgets rules need to include “conditionality” provisions that would tie cohesion funding to member states’ adherence to minimum rule-of-law provisions.

She said this issue was the “elephant in the room” at every EU meeting.

The French minister said: “It would be totally inappropriate for a Member State to receive EU funds for a goal and pursue other goals with national money.”

Friedrich Heinemann from the Center for European Economic Research said: “If the courts are shut down, there is a risk that the money will percolate. Then there will be no basis for EU cohesion policy.”

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