Polish right-wing government wins left’s support on EU funds


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s governing conservative party moved closer Tuesday to securing parliamentary support for a national plan on spending the country’s share of the European Union pandemic recovery fund, after making concessions to a left-wing opposition group.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Law and Justice, the largest party in the ruling coalition, met with leaders of Lewica (the Left) and won their promises of support for the government plan.

Morawiecki said his Cabinet had agreed to some of the Left’s conditions, including the construction of 75,000 cheap rental apartments and more money for hospitals and local governments.

Both unlikely partners said their agreement was for the good of all Poles.

“Poland is more important than any particular party interests,” Morawiecki told a news conference.

The EU is asking its 27 members to deliver their national reconstruction plans to the European Commission by April 30, but it was not clear when Poland’s parliament would vote on the Polish plan.

Law and Justice was unable to get the needed support from within its own coalition, which has been showing signs of disunity for months. In this case, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, head of a small hard-right party, refused backing after the EU linked financing to respect for the rule of law.

It was unusual for Law and Justice to turn to the left for support on such a key measure due, as its conservative policies have drawn the opprobrium of left-wingers. Those policies include the ruling party’s strong support for the Catholic church, a near-total ban on abortion, and anti-LGBT rhetoric.

On economic issues, however, the gap is much narrower.

While conservative on social issues, Law and Justice has introduced a welfare program aimed at easing poverty which includes cash bonuses to families and pensioners.

The EU’s €750 billion-euro (more than $900 billion) coronavirus recovery fund is meant to give a large economic boost to the bloc as it recovers from the pandemic, while promoting green and digital transformation.

Morawiecki said the money would go to renovating hospitals, schools, the building of roads and other infrastructure projects.

One of the left-wing leaders, Adrian Zandberg, said his side expects the national recovery plan to have a broad committee to oversee spending.

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