Poland Vows to Stay in EU Despite Escalating Rule-of-Law Crisis
(Bloomberg) -- Poland will remain in the European Union despite an escalating standoff over its adherence to its rules, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, as opposition leaders called for protests against a ruling that challenged the legal foundations of the bloc.
Joining the EU in 2004 was one of Poland’s “highlights” in the past decades, Morawiecki wrote on Facebook on Friday. “Poland’s place is and will be in the European family of nations,” he said.
His comments come after Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister and president of the European Council, urged his compatriots to take to the streets to voice opposition against a ruling from the country’s Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday saying that the constitution overrides some EU laws.
The judgment from the top court, which is stacked with loyalists to the ruling Law & Justice Party and welcomed by Morawiecki, challenges the supremacy of European law, a cornerstone of the continent’s push for an “ever closer union” since it began more than 60 years ago. It may be used by Poland’s government as justification to continue to bypass common rules that underpin how the 27-nation bloc works.
The court’s decision threatens Poland’s access to 36 billion euros ($42 billion) in pandemic aid and marks the strongest escalation yet in a conflict between the EU and its biggest eastern member over judicial independence, media freedom and LGBTQ rights. It could also potentially challenge the country’s membership in the bloc.
The EU’s executive hasn’t yet decided on a response but said it wouldn’t “hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties to safeguard the uniform application and integrity of Union law.”
Tusk, who heads the opposition-leading Civic Platform party, has spent years locked in a political fight with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the nationalist Law & Justice and the architect of Poland’s populist drift.
“I call on all those who want to defend European Poland,” Tusk tweeted after Thursday’s verdict, announcing a protest for Sunday. “Only together we can stop them.”
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