Unused EU recovery funds should go towards defence, Polish ministers say

FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Baerbock and Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski meet in Slubice

WARSAW (Reuters) - Unused European Union funds meant for helping member states recover from the pandemic should be put towards building the defence industry, Poland's deputy prime minister and its foreign minister said on Monday.

Poland is spending more on defence as a proportion of its GDP than other EU states and has called for EU members to ramp up defence spending in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"All unused national recovery plan funds should be shifted towards defence projects," deputy prime minister and defence minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak Kamysz said during a panel at the Defence24 conference in Warsaw.

He added that there would be "a lot of such (unused) funds."

The EU in 2021 set up a 724-billion-euro fund, known as the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), to be disbursed to member states over six years to boost public investment and help them emerge from the pandemic greener and more tech-friendly.

To get the RRF money, member states have to implement pre-agreed investments and reforms that will also boost growth in the years to come. Poland and some other countries are currently in a race against time to carry out necessary investments and reforms before access to the RRF expires in August 2025.

"I fully agree that unused national recovery plan funds, globally within the whole union, should go towards defence," Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said during the same panel discussion.

Poland is spending over 4% of its economic output, double the 2% NATO guideline, on defence.

(Reporting by Karol Badohal; Editing by Susan Fenton)