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The European Union risks collapse or becoming a dictatorship if it continues to blackmail Warsaw over fears of "Polexit", the Polish prime minister said on Monday.
In a letter to EU leaders, Mateusz Morawiecki accused the bloc of "punishing" and "starving" Poland with threats to withhold £48 billion of Covid recovery funds in a row over the supremacy of European law.
The Polish Constitutional Court ruled that its rules superseded EU law, which contradicts the bloc's founding treaties, on Oct 8. EU leaders are set to discuss the crisis at a Brussels summit this week.
Mr Morawiecki said Poland remained a "loyal member" of the EU but warned that the bloc was turning into an anti-democratic federal superstate that trampled over national sovereignty.
"We ought to be anxious about the gradual transformation of the union into an entity that would cease to be an alliance of free, equal and sovereign states and instead become a single, centrally managed organism, run by institutions deprived of democratic control by the citizens," he said.
Mr Morawiecki, of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, hit out at European politicians calling for Brussels to withhold EU budget cash and Covid funds. The Dutch parliament has passed a resolution calling for the money to be held back, and the European Commission has said it will use "all its powers" to ensure EU law is respected.
He said: "The language of financial blackmail, punishment, 'starving' of unsubordinated states, undemocratic and centralist pressures do not have a place in European politics. Such language strikes not only at individual states, but the entire community."
He added that EU law did have primacy over Polish law in most cases, but not in the case of its constitution. He said it was usual for constitutional courts across Europe to make similar rulings and accused the commission of trying to overrule the tribunal, which critics say is stuffed with the prime minister's political allies.
Mr Morawiecki added: "Unfortunately, today we are dealing with a very dangerous phenomenon whereby various European Union institutions usurp powers they do not have under the treaties and impose their will on member states."
He added that "no sovereign state" could accept that because it was "illegal" and "dangerous to the continuation of the European Union" as it subordinated national governments to "the practically unlimited power of centrally managed institutions deprived of democratic control".
Mr Morawiecki said that would turn the EU into "an organisation that contradicts our common values: freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice and solidarity".
Law and Justice has long been at loggerheads with Brussels over issues such as the rule of law, migration and gay rights. A poll by SW Research for the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper found that 43 per cent of Poles believe there should be a referendum on EU membership to settle the row, but of those 63 per cent would vote to remain.
Didier Reynders, the EU's justice commissioner, said Brussels could trigger a new mechanism that allows it to withhold budget payments to member states not respecting the bloc's democratic standards within days.
Thursday's EU summit is likely to open up another battle in the bloc's culture war between east and west after a European Council meeting this summer in which western European leaders attacked Hungary's Viktor Orban over his homophobic censorship laws.