Poland top court overturns its constitution by trampling some EU laws

WARSAW – Poland’s Constitutional Court launched a confrontation with the European Union on Thursday, arguing that the country’s constitution goes beyond the laws of a particular bloc, a decision that brought the 27-member Union together like glue. threatened to disband.

The Warsaw Constitutional Court’s ruling after months of delays in a closely monitored case effectively calls into question the rule of European law, which “has been a growing union since its founding more than 60 years ago”. This is the cornerstone of the pursuit of the continent.

The decision could raise dangerous long-term questions about the future EU membership of Poland, the most populous and economically important nation in the group of former communist states that joined the bloc after the collapse of the Soviet empire. Formerly.

The case began in April when Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the deeply conservative Law and Justice Party, asked the Constitutional Court to analyze “the conflict between European law and national constitutions”.

The twelve-member court that passed Thursday’s ruling was presided over by Chief Justice Julia Przeebska, a close friend of Justice and Justice Leader Jarosaw Kaczynski, who has long tried to limit Poland’s sovereignty and improve LGBTQ rights policies. Let’s take a look at Brussels’ efforts to step up. And other issues allegedly contrary to Polish norms.

Przylbska, who read out the verdict in court on Thursday, said some European laws were unconstitutional and could not be complied with in Poland because they would prevent the country from functioning as a “sovereign and democratic state” and “the Polish constitution would be undermined”. Poland’s supreme law will be terminated. According to him, the EU is acting “beyond the powers granted by the Treaty”.

After years of hostility between Brussels and Warsaw, the European Court of Justice in July ordered Poland to abolish a new disciplinary system for judges, which the far-right government sees as a campaign to reform and abolish the judiciary. described in. The influence of the communist era.

In August, the chief justice indicated that Poland could at least partially comply with the order, but has since relented and left the government to try its case in the Constitutional Court. , based on the argument that the Polish Constitution, and not the EU courts, should be the final legal arbiter.

The government says it has no plans to quit the union, which has funded billions of dollars and has broad public support, polls show.

“The Polish government wants to have its own cake and eat it,” said Anna Wojciech, a researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences and a specialist in the rule of law.

“They want to stay in the EU because 90 percent of Poles support it, but at the same time they want to get rid of European court decisions,” he said.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, has made clear it will not accept this and is avoiding any statements that would question Poland’s future membership, which is still pending in the 2016 vote to leave the UK. Recovery after shock.

The controversial disciplinary system for judges, Wojcick said, “touches fundamental questions about the right to effective legal protection” and threatens “Europe’s legal system”.

Brussels has asked European courts to impose fines of up to $1.2 million per day in Poland for refusing to lift the disciplinary system. In another sign of rising tensions, the commission admitted last month that it had withheld $42 billion in payments to Poland from the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund because of the country’s challenges to the EU’s rule of law.

Donald Tusk, a former prime minister who returned to Warsaw this year to protest law and justice after serving as President of the Council of Europe in Brussels, warned in July that his home country and Hungary risk compromising the bloc’s ground rules. . Europe is headed for disbandment. But he said there would be no impending collapse and the process would take years.

When asked by a judge Thursday about the possibility of Poland eventually having to leave the bloc, a government spokesman at the court said it was not a problem because the case focused on narrow legal issues rather than Poland’s membership. Because of that.