Episode 72

POLAND: EU Grant & more – 5th Mar 2024

State television reform, NATO drills, an EU grant, legalization of abortion, record for weapon-buying, nuclear plants, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 5th of March twenty twenty-four. A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Let's start with upcoming reforms. Recently, the EU announced a grant of over 100 billion dollars for Poland since the government implemented a reform in the judiciary system. On Thursday, the 29th, Izabela Leszczyna, the health minister, said that part of this money will go to the healthcare system to boost the treatment of rare diseases. Currently, there are three million people in Poland diagnosed with rare diseases, like spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA. Leszczyna added that after April, when the government approves the bill for healthcare system funding, pregnant women with SMA will be able to receive free treatment.

Following the depoliticization of the National Council of the Judiciary, or KRS, the new government passed new legislation to boost the rule of law in line with EU requirements. On Monday, the 4th, the government announced another plan to depoliticize the Constitutional Tribunal, the second highest court after the Supreme Court. The new plan will eliminate the government's and parliament's power to appoint judges to the tribunal; instead, the judiciary will be responsible for that task. Also, a candidate judge can’t belong to a political party. This law will eliminate the previous Law and Justice government's effect on the tribunal.

Along the same lines, a few weeks ago, the new government reformatted the main state television or TVP, to remove the influence of the previous Law and Justice administration from the channel. On Wednesday, the 28th, Ewa Jeneralska, the new director of TVP Kraków, a sub-branch of the TVP, assured that the channel will now be objective and not sided with any political party, including the ruling coalition. She said instead of showing only events that benefit a particular party, the channel will air all types of news for people to form their own opinions. Jeneralska also said the channel is ready to host politicians, including those from Law and Justice, ahead of the local elections in April this year.

The government wants to switch to a decentralized power system. On Wednesday, the 28th, Dariusz Wieczorek, the minister of science and deputy head of the Left party, stated that the ruling coalition wants to decentralize Poland and give more power to local governments. He explained that in this way, the local authorities can provide services to people faster. Wieczorek added that the executive should form a coalition during the upcoming local elections to ensure that the previous ruling Law and Justice party loses power locally.

The country is also switching from coal-fired to nuclear plants. The members of the previous Law and Justice administration said that the new pro-European government may prevent the construction of Poland's first nuclear plant because the EU says it harms the environment. On Saturday, the 2nd of March, the new government said they would continue the Law and Justice Party nuclear plant project. Poland's first nuclear plant in history will cost almost forty billion dollars. The government will collaborate with the US on its construction, which they plan to complete in twenty thirty-three. Also, the previous government signed another agreement with South Korea to build the second nuclear plant in twenty thirty-five.

On Sunday, the 4th, Paulina Kloska, the Climate and Environment Minister, asked the EU to be more accommodating to Poland in its twenty thirty and twenty forty climate goals. The European Commission previously set a goal for all member states to achieve a fifty percent reduction in CO2 emissions by twenty thirty and ninety percent by twenty forty. However, since the Polish economy is less developed than in central and western European countries, such as Germany or the Netherlands, Kloska said Poland will likely fail to achieve the goal. She added that cooperation from citizens is also important in reaching the fifty percent reduction, and the Polish farmers' protest over the EU's restriction on the farming sector to reduce CO2 emissions is a significant obstruction.

Moving on to education. On Saturday, the 2nd of March, Barbara Nowacka, the education minister, announced the government's plans for schools. She said that the last government wasted lots of money on buying laptops and printers for schools but did not manage to organize them to boost the teaching process. As a result, the ministry faced difficulties in its financial situation, and it will delay large reforms until the beginning of twenty twenty-six. On a positive note, Nowacka added that the ministry will now take into account the opinions of teachers, not only experts, before introducing measures. Also, the ministry will increase funding for kindergartens and raise teachers' salaries with the EU's upcoming financial support.

Education requires change, and so does the abortion law. On Thursday, the 29th, Władysław Kosiniak, the leader of the Polish People's Party and deputy prime minister, asked his ruling coalition partners to support the Third Way's proposal on abortion. The Third Way is an alliance between the Polish People's Party and the Poland twenty fifty Party; both are liberal, but at the same time, they have conservative Christian views.

The Third Way initiative is to return to the abortion compromise, a law valid from nineteen ninety-three to twenty twenty. In this period of time abortion was legal in cases of rape, pregnancies that endanger a woman's life, an incurable life-threatening illness, or a high probability of severe or irreversible fetal impairment. However, after twenty twenty, the Constitutional Tribunal prohibited abortion in cases of fetal impairment. Kosiniak said reaching a compromise and allowing abortion in cases of fetal impairment instead of total legalization is the best solution since President Andrzej Duda is a conservative and would never eliminate the ban on abortion entirely. The Third Way has now asked its allies to cast more votes in favor of legalizing abortion in situations of fetal impairment, suggesting that the country will not legalize abortion entirely any time soon.

The presidential elections will take place in May twenty twenty-five, and people have already started a debate about who will become the next president. On Thursday, the 29th, the research center IPSOS published a poll saying Mateusz Morawiecki, the former prime minister in the Law and Justice government, and Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw and member of the Civic Platform, will be the two most popular candidates. People also support Szymon Hołownia, the speaker of the parliament and leader of the Poland twenty fifty party, as he has become more visible and popular among the public since he assumed his position in parliament.

The military sector is also among the leading topics this week. On Wednesday, the 28th, NATO launched the biggest drill since the Cold War in Poland to deter Russia from attacking the country. The first part of the drill, called Dragon-24, involved over 25 thousand soldiers from Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, and Albania. Over 700 military vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, and planes, accompanied the maneuver. At the same time that the Dragon-24 is taking place, the warships and aircraft are participating in another drill called Ostrobok 24 in the Baltic Sea. The second part of NATO's biggest drill will start in the next few weeks, including ninety thousand soldiers from other NATO countries.

Still on defense, on Thursday, the 29th, Poland purchased new rounds of military equipment from the US worth 2.5 billion dollars. The defense minister said the contract included an integrated air and missile defense command system.

On Friday, the 1st, Rzeczpospolita, the online newspaper, published statistics showing that Poles broke a record for weapon-buying in twenty twenty-three. According to the report, citizens purchased 830 thousand new weapons in twenty twenty-three, 100 thousand more compared to twenty twenty-two and 200 thousand more than in twenty twenty-one. Moreover, the statistics showed that the number of people who own weapons has doubled since twenty sixteen. The Russian invasion of Ukraine might be the reason for the increasing figures because people are now more afraid that a war may break out in Europe. The other reason could be the extended access to arms in twenty twenty-one when the government simplified the bureaucratic procedures for people who wanted to buy weapons.

Aaaaand that’s it for this week.

We want to invite you to take a look at one of Rorshok's other projects. The Daily Knowledge is a daily pocket newspaper that comes out Monday through Friday. It is in our Ourzine format, a little booklet that you have to print in order to read. In the Daily Knowledge ourzine you’ll find a collection interesting of newsletters and selected articles that takes about an hour to read. Visit rorshok.com/ourzines/thedailyknowledge to find the latest editions. The link will also be in the show notes.

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