Under Pressure, Elzbieta Bienkowska, Minister of Regional Development. From a photo by Piotr Drabik.
(Click on image to see original on pl.wikipedia and for licensing.)
The European Commission has blocked the repayment of funds due to Poland for EU-assisted road building projects under the auspices of the Infrastructure and Environment programme and Eastern Poland development program.
The reason for the stoppage is a court case that has been running for several months into the behaviour of ten road construction company bosses and a senior director of Poland’s Trunk Roads Directorate, the GDDKiA. The accused face charges that they formed a cartel which affected the tenders for sections of the S8 expressway and a section of the A$ motorway.
European Commission officials have demanded that Poland withdraws its refund applications for the tenders which are the subject of the court proceedings, puts in place an urgent investigation into its control procedures, and undertakes urgent checks to see whether any other tenders could have been effected to similar illegal price-fixing agreements.
Some 3.5 billion PLN in EU refunds are stopped, that being the sum of monies due to Poland that are ‘in the pipeline’. If the stoppage effects projects for which Poland has not yet submitted the refund applications the sum could be much higher.
On Friday 1 February, Infrastructure Minister, Slawomir Nowak, and Regional Development Minister, Elzbieta Bienkowska, came back from consultations with EU officials in Brussels and declared that they expect the EU stoppage to be lifted soon. Others are less optimistic – other EU investigations are under way could effect even more refunds. If matters are not resolved by May the GDDKiA could become insolvent.
- Independent.ie – EU freezes €900m funding to Poland in road fraud probe