The head of the European Commission has promised a swift response to a ruling by Poland’s high court rejecting the supremacy of EU law, which has caused a crisis in relations between Brussels and Warsaw.
Ursula von der Leyen said she was deeply concerned about Thursday’s ruling by the Polish constitutional court, which concluded that basic principles of EU law were incompatible with the Polish constitution. “I have instructed the commission services to analyze it thoroughly and quickly. On this basis, we will decide the next steps, ”he said in his first public statement on the matter.
Neither Von der Leyen, nor his officials, gave more details about the schedule. “The fact that we say ‘fast’ does not bind us to a specific amount of time,” said the commission’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer. “It means without delay, it means that we are going to see this trial, and the time it takes us to arrive with the analysis will obviously depend on the complexity of the ruling and its implications for us.”
While the European Commission is embroiled in a legal dispute with Germany’s constitutional court over EU law, Brussels sees Poland’s latest ruling as much more serious. Polish judges have rejected the basic principle of the EU’s legal primacy, a central pillar of the bloc’s legal order to which all member states adhere by joining.
The Polish ruling rejects important articles of the EU treaties, including that member states will take “appropriate measures” to fulfill their obligations under EU law.
Politicians and jurists have described the measure as a “legal Polexit” that endangers Poland’s access to EU funds and the rights of its population and companies, largely pro-EU.
France’s European Minister, Clément Beaune, said the situation was very serious. “There is a risk of a de facto exit” of Poland from the EU, he told BFM-TV broadcaster, adding that he did not want Poland to leave. “This is not a technical or legal issue. This is a highly political issue that adds to a long list of provocations directed at the EU, ”he said.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told the Polish government that he was playing with fire. “The primacy of European law is fundamental for the integration of Europe and coexistence in Europe. If this principle is broken, Europe as we know it, as it was built with the treaties of Rome, will cease to exist ”.
The Polish government has tried to defuse the crisis by saying that the rejection of the EU’s legal supremacy did not affect areas in which the EU has competence, such as competition and trade.
But the political standoff is underscored as the ruling was requested by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who argued that Poland’s membership in the EU since 2004 did not grant the supremacy of EU law.
Officials in Brussels are desperate not to have an interlocutor in Poland as the two sides clash over a variety of issues, from the rule of law to LGBTQ + rights to Poland’s handling of asylum seekers in its border with Belarus.
EU officials think Morawiecki has cornered himself, with no easy way out between the demands of EU law and satisfying his party’s hardliners.
The ruling is the latest twist in a conflict between Brussels and Warsaw that began shortly after Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party came to power in 2015. The ruling party quickly introduced changes to its legal system that increased the government’s control over the judges, widely condemned as undermining. The rule of law.
The latest conflict adds to the dilemma in Brussels over the approval of a € 58 billion (£ 49 billion) coronavirus recovery plan for Poland. While EU authorities have approved plans for almost all member states, decisions on Hungary and Poland have been stalled over concerns about the rule of law.
Von der Leyen’s spokesman said the commission had no plans to suspend work on evaluating Poland’s recovery plan. “We are going to carry out the analysis [of the legal ruling] and meanwhile the other tasks that the commission has to carry out continue, ”he told reporters.
EU officials were expected to approve the funds for Poland later this month, subject to the conditions of judicial reform. But the latest court ruling complicates that goal, with some MEPs calling for all financial flows from the EU to Warsaw to be frozen as soon as the ruling becomes legally binding, due to concerns about the lack of independent courts to safeguard the proper spending of the money. .
MEPs also urge Von der Leyen to bring Poland to the European court of law over the latest ruling. “As guardian of the treaties, the European Commission has no choice but to initiate legal proceedings,” said Malik Azmani, the Dutch vice president of the centrist group Renew. He said Von der Leyen “must go to the European Parliament to explain the next steps.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism