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EU sends Poland thinly-veiled warning it will crack down on LGBT+ abuse by pulling crucial funding

Emma Powys Maurice January 11, 2021
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Poland

Poland could clash with the European Union over its new funding rulebook (Omar Marques/Getty)

A new clause in EU funding rules could see Poland facing further financial restrictions if it continues attacking LGBT+ rights, an official has confirmed.

After years of negotiations, the EU has agreed on a structural funds rulebook which lays out the legislation for the funds that make up almost a third of its future budget.

It includes a crucial reference to respect for the European Charter of Fundamental Rights – meaning that countries who refuse to adhere to the principles of gender equality and anti-discrimination could see their projects rejected for EU funding.

This provision “could be a potential hook” to “withhold money if we see that something is not going in the right direction”, an anonymous EU official told Euractiv.

“When you’re supporting EU-funded projects in member states, there is an obligation – both, by the EU, and also by the member states – to ensure that these projects are complying with the Charter of Fundamental Rights,” they said.

“In the context we’re in right now in Europe, we are debating these values and the backtracking in a much more vibrant way – so it’s important to stress that.”

Respect for the Charter through all phases of EU regional spending has been an obligation since its adoption, but until recently, the EU executive did not use this to keep cheating countries and regions in line.

It was introduced after the previous commission’s mandate had seen “concrete examples in which we were doubtful” of a member state’s support for EU values, the official noted.

While the individual did not specifically name Poland, they raised the “issue of potential abuse” from “so-called civil society institutions” in certain countries, presumably referring to Poland’s “LGBT-free” zones.

EU grants have already been withheld from towns in these areas, which now cover around a third of the country.

The EU has also threatened to cut pandemic recovery funds to the LGBT-free zones, with the commission pointedly asking anti-LGBT+ governors to confirm in writing exactly how the money would be used for “measures promoting equality and non-discrimination”.

Related topics: EU, european commission, LGBT-free zones, Poland

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