WARSAW, Poland – Poland is the center of European attention this week, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki addressed the European Parliament on Tuesday and leaders at EU summits this weekend over the legal puzzle created by a recent decision by Poland Expect to struggle. constitutional Court.

- Advertisement -

Some opponents of Poland’s nationalist government fear that the court’s decision may put the country on the path of a possible “Polexit”, or that the departure of 27 countries from the European Union like Britain did with Brexit. The government condemns those spreading the idea, which it calls “fake news”. Here’s a look at the differing views on the matter – and why Poland is unlikely to go off the bloc, but the government’s clash with EU leaders is real.

backstory

advertisement

Poland’s government, led by the conservative Law and Justice party, has been in conflict with EU officials in Brussels since taking power in 2015. The dispute is largely over changes to the Polish judicial system, which gives more power to the ruling party. Courts. Polish officials say they want to reform a corrupt and inefficient justice system. The European Commission believes the changes destroy the checks and balances of the country’s democratic system.

Anti-EU rhetoric from Poland

- Advertisement -

As the standoff over the judiciary becomes more tense, with the commission threatening Poland with withdrawal of billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds, ruling party leaders have sometimes compared the EU to the Soviet Union, Poland’s during the Cold War. To seize power.

Party deputy leader Ryszard Terleki said last month that if things don’t go to Poland’s liking, “we will have to find a drastic solution.” Referring to Brexit, he also said: “The British showed that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy did not suit them and they turned and left.”

Marek Suski, another prominent member of the party, said that Poland would “fight the occupiers of Brussels” as it had fought Nazi and Soviet occupiers in the past. “Brussels sends us overlords who send orders to Poland, to put us on our knees, so that we can be a German state, not a proud state of independent Poles,” he declared.

a major rule of law

Poland’s constitutional court this month challenged a notion that EU law overruled the laws of its 27 member states, saying some EU laws are inconsistent with the country’s own constitution.

The decision – made by a court dominated by ruling party loyalists – gives the Polish government what it sought to ignore the directives of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which it does not like – especially with regard to judicial independence. on matters.

The ruling is another major test for the EU after years of managing its messy divorce from Britain

“This decision calls into question the very foundation of the European Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during an EU parliament debate on Tuesday. “It is a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal system.”

What does the Polish government say?

Polish leaders say it is absurd to think they want to leave the EU and accuse the opposition of playing with the idea of ​​”Polexit” for political gains.

Moravicki, the prime minister, said last week that the opposition is “trying to say that we want to leave the EU and weaken Poland and the EU. Obviously this is not just fake news, but worse.” It’s news. It’s just a lie designed to undermine the European Union.”

Morawiecki spoke soon after Poland’s chief opposition leader, Donald Tusk, a former EU leader, organized massive nationwide protests in support of Poland’s stay in the European Union.

Morawiecki reiterated his argument on Tuesday, telling the EU parliament that people should not repeat lies about the Polish government seeking Polexit. He added that “88% of the polls are in favor of EU membership and half of them are our voters.”

Could Poland be expelled?

The European Union has no legal mechanism to expel a member. This means that for Polexit to occur, it would have to be triggered by Warsaw. At the moment, this idea seems far-fetched, as EU membership is extremely popular in Poland, with over 80% of Poles in the polls in favor.

When Poland entered the European Union in 2004, Poles gained new freedoms to travel and work in the EU, and a dramatic economic transformation was set in motion that benefited millions.

Yet some Poles still fear this may change. They worry that if new EU funds are withheld from Poland due to a dispute over the law, Poles may eventually realize that it is no longer in their advantage to belong to the bloc.

Some fear simply a political accident that coincided with Britain’s departure from the European Union. David Cameron, the former British prime minister who called for a referendum on EU membership, called for the country to remain in the bloc. He called for a vote to settle the matter, believing that Britons would vote to stay. 2016 did not receive a majority, and Cameron quickly resigned.

Moritz Körner, a European parliamentarian from Germany, told Moraviki during a debate in the EU parliament on Tuesday that he “risked sleeping in leaving the EU against the will of his European friends and against the will of the Polish people”. “