poland: ‘You are playing with fire’: EU faces crisis over Polish court ruling


WARSAW: A Polish court sentence challenging the supremacy of European Union law sank the EU into an existential crisis on Friday, raising fears among EU policy makers and many Poles that Poland I could eventually leave the political bloc.
Politicians across Europe expressed dismay at the decision by Poland’s Constitutional Court on Thursday that parts of EU law are incompatible with the Polish constitution, undermining the legal pillar on which the 27-nation EU stands. .
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said she was “deeply concerned” and that the EU executive she leads would do everything possible to ensure the primacy of EU law.
It said in a statement that the 450 million EU citizens and their companies need legal certainty, and the Commission will carry out a rapid analysis to decide their next steps.
Although Warsaw and Brussels have been at odds since the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) came to power in 2015, they are now on a total collision course.
“We have to clearly say that this Polish government is playing with fire,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said upon arrival at a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.
“The primacy of European law is essential 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.”
Officials in Brussels said Thursday’s court ruling could lead to a series of fines and legal cases against Warsaw that will take months, if not years, to resolve.
PiS says it has no plans for a “Polexit” and, unlike Britain before its Brexit referendum in 2016, popular support for EU membership is high in Poland.
Poland’s membership in the bloc since 2004 has helped fuel some of the fastest economic growth in Europe. With an increasingly assertive Russia baffling some Central and Eastern European states that were under communist rule for decades, many Poles view the EU as an essential part of national security.
But, hailing the court ruling, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki He said that each member state should be treated with respect and the EU should not be “a grouping of those who are equal and more equal.”
The populist governments of Poland and Hungary have increasingly found themselves at odds with the European Commission on issues ranging from LGBT rights to judicial independence.
The Constitutional Court took over the case after Morawiecki asked if the EU institutions could prevent Poland from reorganizing its judiciary.
Poland will receive some 770 billion zlotys ($ 193 billion) from the bloc by 2028, and critics say the government is putting that funding at risk. Poland’s nominal GDP was 2.3 trillion zlotys in 2020.
A Eurobarometer survey conducted in June and July 2021 showed that almost twice as many Poles trust the EU than their own national government.
“I think … there is a risk that we may leave the EU, because all these actions that are happening can lead to that step by step,” said Warsaw pensioner Grazyna Gulbinowicz.
“I think it would have a very negative impact on our overall situation, because things are not easy and without EU funding it will be even more difficult, not to mention the fact that we will feel isolated.”

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