EU and Poland rift deepens over declaration of supremacy of Polish law
Poland’s top constitutional body ruled this week that EU law could not override the Polish constitution, especially over controversial judicial reforms.
The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that some parts of EU treaties were incompatible with Poland’s constitution, challenging European integration and sharply escalating the dispute with Warsaw.
The move has been seen as Poland’s nationalist government seeking to stop Polish judges using EU law to question the status of their colleagues appointed following constitutional changes.
Clément Beaune, the French Europe minister, said the Polish ruling risked pushing the country out of the EU. “It is very serious. There is the risk of a de-facto exit,” the Macron ally said.
“It’s very serious, it’s not a technical or a judicial issue, it’s eminently political,” Beaune told BFM TV.
“When you join a club, you sign a contract, which is called a treaty, which was for that matter approved by a referendum in Poland, it’s the Polish people who voted for it,” Beaune said. “When you are in the club, you respect the rules.”
The row follows Polish defiance over rulings from the European Court of Justice on migrant quotas, the independence of the judiciary and other questions as Poland is seen as abandoning democratic norms.
The European Commission says constitutional changes have undermined judicial independence and opened up Polish courts to political interference.
The Constitutional Tribunal has been targeted by the populist Law and Justice (PiS) government. It is now dominated by judges who are seen as loyal to PiS, one of whom was illegally appointed, according to the European Court of Human Rights.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki welcomed the ruling, saying Poland wanted to create a fairer EU.
“The judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal confirmed what literally results from the content of the constitution of the Republic of Poland. Namely, that constitutional law is superior to other sources of law,” Morawiecki posted on Facebook.
“We have the same rights as other countries. We want these rights to be respected. We are not an uninvited guest in the European Union. That is why we do not agree to be treated as a second-class country,” he added.
“This is the kind of union we want and that’s the kind of union we will create,” Morawiecki posted, while adding that Poland wanted to stay in the “European family of nations”.
Picture credit: Wikimedia