Polish lawmakers OK spending plan for EU recovery funds

Polish lawmakers have voted to approve the nation’s spending plan for the 58 billion euros ($70 billion) it expects to receive from the European Union’s pandemic recovery plan.

At a special parliament session held Tuesday, the vote was 290-33 in favor with 133 abstentions.

The National Reconstruction Plan, which has already been sent to the EU Commission, was approved thanks to support from the The Left opposition party and and the centrist Poland 2050 group.

A small party within the ruling right-wing coalition, led by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, was against the government plan because the funds are linked to the member nations’ rule of law, Poland’s sticking point with the EU.

Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the recovery plan a “second Marshall Plan” and said a vote in favor was a vote for Poland’s development and a strong position in the 27-nation EU.

He said the funds will mainly go to infrastructure like new roads and energy systems but also to upgrading hospitals and schools.

Critics argued the plan had not been consulted with local governments, which should be the funds’ main recipients, and demanded a mechanism controlling the spending.

The EU’s 750 billion-euro (over $900 billion) coronavirus recovery fund is meant to give EU nations a strong boost as they recover from the pandemic’s economic devastation.