- European Commission criticizes decision to lead Poland to leave bloc
- Commission vows to ‘use its powers’ to protect primacy of EU law
- Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has welcomed the court’s decision
Poland may be on its way out of the European Union after the country’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday that EU treaties were inconsistent with the Polish constitution.
This puts the future of the Eastern European nation in the EU into doubt, six years after the UK voted to leave the bloc in 2016 and sparked a continent-wide debate about the role of the 27-nation bloc.
Warsaw has long been at war with Brussels over democratic standards and the independence of its judiciary.
But Thursday’s decision, which said parts of EU law are inconsistent with the Polish constitution, put Warsaw and Brussels on a full-fledged collision course.
The court was asked by the country’s ruling coalition to consider the state of EU law, which is dominated by the conservative EU-skeptical Law and Justice party and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Jarosaw Kaczyski, who leads the Law and Justice party in parliament, welcomed the court’s decision, saying that Brussels’ ability to overthrow the Polish government meant that Poland was ‘not a sovereign state’.
He argues that Brussels ‘There is no right to interfere in Polish affairs, echoing arguments made by pro-Brexit leaders in Britain who were angered by European red tape restricting Westminster’s ability to govern.
However, the Polish court’s decision has been met with anger in Brussels. The European Commission vows to oppose its findings and assert the supremacy of EU law.
This sets it on a full-fledged confrontation with Poland’s nationalist rulers after years of legal and political wrangling.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply concerned” by Thursday’s decision by Poland’s constitutional tribunal and the executive she leads is in her power to ensure the primacy of EU law. All will do.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Poland should implement EU law ‘fully and completely’, while France’s Europe Minister Clement Beun called the ruling an ‘attack against the EU’.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morwiecki, who requested a constitutional tribunal to rule on the matter, welcomed the move in a Facebook post on Friday.
The move was welcomed in the UK by politicians including Conservative MP Michael Fabricant
Former Conservative MEP David Bannerman Says Development Means A ‘Polexit’ Could Be Viable
Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Moraviecki, who urged the constitutional tribunal to rule on the matter, welcomed the move in a Facebook post on Friday.
However, he tried to play down the hopes of Poland leaving the European Union, saying that The process of Poland and other Central European countries joining the European Union in 2004 was ‘one of the highlights of the past decades’.
‘We want a community of respect, not a group of people who are equal and more equal. This is our community, our union,’ he wrote in the post, referring to the European Union.
“We want this kind of union and we will make this kind of union,” Moraviki said in a post published in the early hours of Friday.
Opinion polls show Poles are enthusiastic about the EU, with more than 80 percent supporting membership of the bloc, which has given its country billions of euros in subsidies, turbo-charging its development.
But relations have become increasingly strained since the populist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power.
Earlier this year, Morawiecki asked the Constitutional Court to rule over the primacy of EU law, following several decisions by the bloc’s top court against Poland’s controversial judicial reforms.
The Constitutional Court carried out controversial reforms designed by the PiS government in 2016, with leading critics in Poland and abroad arguing that it sided with PiS allies.
Opponents of the government lined up to criticize its approach.
Pro-EU independence icon Lech Wasa, whose trade union activism helped topple the communist regime in 1989, called for new elections in the country to “save the honor of Poland”.
Experts say the ruling, which has yet to be officially published to have legal force, could be the first step toward getting Poland to one day leave the bloc.
“This decision is absolutely inconsistent with EU law and should be ignored in the decisions of ordinary courts,” said Piotr Bogdanowicz of the University of Warsaw.
“Our membership of the EU is really at stake,” Bogdanowicz told TOKFM radio.
Poland’s former human rights ombudsman Adam Bodner told TOKFM that the ruling constituted Polexit “in all names”.
Jeroen Lenars, a MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party, said: ‘By declaring that EU treaties are not compatible with Polish law, the illegitimate constitutional tribunal in Poland has set the country on the path of Polexit.’
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders warned that these decisions were “tools” to “re-establish the primacy of European law and the Court” as enforcers.
And European Parliament President David Sassoli said the ruling would not go without punishment. ‘The primacy of EU law must be indisputable,’ he said.
The European Commission said the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision in Warsaw (pictured) put Poland on course to leave the bloc
EU membership treaties state that the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is the final decision-maker, meaning that states agree that the bloc’s law has primacy over national law.
The primacy of constitutional law over other sources of law stems directly from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. This has been categorically confirmed by the Constitutional Tribunal today (once again),’ a government spokesperson wrote on Twitter.
French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said the court’s decision attacked the EU and that economic sanctions were an option.
“This is the most serious… there is a real risk of leaving the EU,” Bunin told BFM TV on Friday, adding that he does not want Poland to leave the EU.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday ahead of the court’s decision
Meanwhile MEPs said the ruling was ‘illegitimate’ as it was made by a tribunal full of aides of the prime minister. Only two of the 14 judges disputed the decision.
Germany’s Greens’ MEP Terry Rintke said: ‘Unfortunately, the illegitimate Polish ‘constitutional tribunal’ cannot be considered an independent judicial body.’
And Dutch MEP Sophie tweeted in ‘te weld’: ‘A pollexit has become inevitable by EU legal order’.
The ruling has also sharply escalated disputes between Brussels and Warsaw over the independence of the courts, media freedom, LGBT rights and other issues.
But polls have rejected suggestions that public sentiment is leaning toward leaving the European Union, with a poll on Tuesday showing that 88 percent of people want to stay in the bloc.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday ahead of the court’s decision.