EU top official says Polish ruling is a threat to the bloc

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A top EU official locked horns with Poland’s prime minister on Tuesday, arguing that a recent ruling by the country’s constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws threatens the bloc’s foundation and left it unanswered. Will go

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Addressing EU MPs in Strasbourg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was deeply concerned by the decision, which she said was “a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal system” and judicial independence. undermines security.

“The rule of law is the glue that binds our union together,” von der Leyen said.


Relations between Poland and the European Union reached a new low earlier this month, when a tribunal ruled that Polish laws take precedence over those of the 27-nation bloc – which Poland joined in 2004 – Rising tensions over democratic standards between the country’s right-wing nationalist government and Brussels institutions.

The division came to a head at Tuesday’s plenary session of the European Parliament, where Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended his country’s stance that Poland’s supreme law is the country’s constitution and that it is above any other law.

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But Morawiecki insisted that Poland adheres to EU treaties and rejected remarks from opponents of Poland’s nationalist government, who fear the court’s ruling could expose the country to a potential “Polexit” or 27-nation EU. put on the way out.

“We must not spread further lies about Poland leaving the European Union,” he said.

At the heart of the controversy is the question of who should have the most power within the 27-nation bloc – each individual nation over its citizens or member states over EU institutions. It was the major driving force behind Britain’s exit from the European Union, and has fueled passion in many East and Central European countries, such as Poland and Hungary.

The whole idea behind the European Union is that a united front will make the 27 countries a formidable power in the world, while they stand as separate nations. And even though member states are happy to see the power being exercised in international relations, some hate it when it affects them.

In his speech, Moravicki described Poland as a nation that is being threatened and attacked by the European Union, whose top court aimed to take away as much power from its member states. Is.

He insisted that the European Union should remain a union of sovereign states until all its members agreed to the treaty to give up their national powers.

“We are now seeing a crawling revolution through the decisions of the European Court of Justice,” he said.

He also said he sees double standards in EU decisions on changes to Poland’s judiciary, noting that each country has its own judicial system, with politicians electing judges in some cases.

The European Commission has several options to try to get Warsaw to comply with EU law, notably the release of the country’s access to billions of euros in European funding to help revive its economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. keeping.

“We can’t and we won’t let our common values ​​jeopardize. The commission will act,” von der Leyen said.

The Commission may also initiate infringement procedures, or decide to activate a mechanism that allows a member country to suspend the payment of EU money, which violates the principles of the rule of law. that affects the budget or financial interests of the block.

Von der Leyen, however, said he was ready to compromise.

“I’ve always been a supporter of dialogue and I always will be,” she said. “This is a situation that can be resolved and we want a strong Poland in a united Europe.”

The Polish Tribunal’s majority decision – in response to a case brought by Morawiecki – held that Poland’s EU membership did not give the European Court of Justice supreme legal authority and did not mean that Poland would assert its legal sovereignty in the EU. was transferred.

Poland’s prime minister called for a review in March after the European Court of Justice ruled that new rules for the appointment of judges to Poland’s Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling forced the government of Poland to discontinue rules that gave politicians an effect on judicial appointments. To date, Poland has not complied.

Last month, the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to impose daily fines on Poland unless it reforms the functioning of the Polish Supreme Court and suspends laws that were deemed undermining judicial independence.


Raf Kaisert in Brussels, Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Monica Skislowska contributed to this story.

Credit: / Mateusz Morawiecki

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