(Bloomberg) -- The European Union approved Poland’s post-pandemic recovery plan, which could unlock as much as 36 billion euros ($39 billion) in aid for Warsaw, which urgently needs the money to cope with millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine. 

The decision is more a gesture of goodwill and doesn’t mean Poland will immediately access the funds. The country still needs to prove it has done enough to address the bloc’s concern over the independence of its judiciary, a flash point in the nationalist government’s fraught relations with Brussels.

EU officials on Wednesday signed off on Poland’s pitch for its share of the 800 billion-euro recovery fund, which sets out key conditions for payouts. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is due in Warsaw on Thursday to announce the deal. 

EU to Back Polish 36 Billion-Euro Aid Plan With Strings Attached

Poland, which has taken a leading role among EU members in providing Ukraine with diplomatic, military and other support, has argued it needs the money to boost the economy and help it provide for more than 3 million refugees fleeing Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

The agreement may also help unlock talks on other issues in the EU, including on implementing a global corporate tax deal, which Poland currently opposes.

The EU’s approval aims to show unity in the bloc and gives the government in Warsaw a benefit of the doubt that it’s going to deliver on the agreement. It includes rolling back some changes in the judiciary, according to an EU diplomat who requested anonymity because the discussions are private.

Three Conditions

Poland’s lower house of parliament last week passed a law to dismantle a contested panel for disciplining judges, one of the three conditions that von der Leyen laid out for approving the financing. However, the legislation has yet to clear the opposition-controlled upper chamber and be signed into law. 

The other two requirements -- to reinstate unlawfully dismissed judges and to revamp the disciplinary regime -- have divided the ruling coalition with firebrand Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro driving a confrontational course against the EU. The commission has said the government’s changes in the judiciary give politicians too much influence over judges. 

In October, the EU’s top court imposed a 1 million-euro fine per day on Poland for ignoring its order to shut down the disciplinary chamber. 

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