Ursula von der Leyen ‘concerned’ over Polish court ruling
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) lashed out after the bloc confirmed it was launching legal action in response to rulings by the country’s constitutional tribunal challenging the primacy of EU law over national law. The move by the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, is an escalation of a dispute with Warsaw over the rule of law which began when eurosceptic PiS came into power in 2015.
Mr Kaczynski, who is also one of Poland’s four deputy prime ministers, added: ‘If we Poles agreed with this kind of modern-day submission we would be degraded in different ways.
“The Court of Justice of the European Union is the primary tool used in this action.”
His remarks will raise eyebrows because they indirectly reference the Third Reich – in other words, Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler.
Ursula von der Leyen and Jaroslaw Kaczynski
EU flags at a recent protest in Poland against a controversial media law
Speaking earlier in the week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, also a member of PiS, likewise said he disagreed with the European Commission’s position, accusing Brussels of misinterpreting the powers conferred on it.
He added: “I think more and more European Union member states are seeing that there must be a limit to the EU’s competences.”
A statement issued by the Polish government on Wednesday said: “The Commission considers that these rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are in breach of the general principles of autonomy, primacy, effectiveness and uniform application of Union law and the binding effect of rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
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Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski
The clash has delayed the release of billions of euros from EU recovery funds to Poland because the Commission claims Poland’s courts are not independent from political influence meaning the funds are not protected from misuse.
The Commission said it was also launching the infringement steps because the Polish constitutional tribunal’s rulings deprived individuals seeking action through the Polish courts of the right to effective judicial protection set out in EU treaties.
It added: “Finally, the Commission has serious doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Constitutional Tribunal and considers that it no longer meets the requirements of a tribunal previously established by law.”
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Janusz Kowalski is a Polish MP
Poland joined the EU in 2004
Poland, which joined the EU in 2004, has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice sent on Wednesday.
If the Commission is not satisfied with Warsaw’s reply, it can send Poland a reasoned opinion requesting it to comply with EU law, again with a two-month reply period.
After that, the Commission can sue Poland in the European Court of Justice, which can impose daily fines on Warsaw until it complies.
Mateusz Morawiecki factfile
It has already imposed such daily fines on Poland in two other cases, which now add up to 1.5 million euros ($1.70 million) a day.
Speaking in March, with talk of a so-called Polexit in the air, Janusz Kowalski, a former member of PiS who now represents the Solidarna Polska party, told Express.co.uk the EU’s stance was fuelling euroscepticism in his country.
He explained: “Today, the EU is ruled by Berlin. It does not respect the EU treaties and treats Poland as a colony – it wants to take Poland’s sovereignty away.
Luxembourg’s European Court of Justice
“Poland is losing billions of euros to implement the EU climate policy.
“Poland has to analyse the United Kingdom’s experience with Brexit.
“A referendum on Poland’s withdrawal from the EU cannot be ruled out in this decade if Poland continues to be attacked by the bureaucratic and ideological EU.
“Nowadays, the EU does not fulfil its basic economic tasks and it focuses on breaking treaties, implementing ideological agenda and taking sovereignty away from its member states.”