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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s prime minister says the European Union’s ex-communist countries still need high levels of EU funding if they are to catch up with living standards in the West.

The comments Wednesday by Mateusz Morawiecki come amid reports the EU plans to shift billions of euros in funding away from countries in Central Europe in the 2021-2027 budget period, partly in punishment for their refusal to accept refugees and rule of law violations in Poland and Hungary.

Speaking alongside Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, Morawiecki said the ex-communist region still lags behind Western Europe because it did not have the “luck” of being able to fully develop economically after World War II.

He noted that living standards and infrastructure remain far below Western levels.