France calls Poland court ruling 'attack against EU'

·3-min read

A landmark ruling by Poland's top court rejecting the supremacy of EU law marks an attack on the European Union, France's Europe Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday.

"It is very serious... there is the risk of a de-facto exit" of Poland from the EU, he told the BFM-TV broadcaster in an interview, adding "I do not want the exit of Poland".

"This is an attack on the EU by a constitutional court that was modelled by the Polish government," Beaune said.

The court on Thursday ruled that some EU treaty articles were "incompatible" with the Polish constitution and warned EU institutions not to "act beyond the scope of their competencies" by interfering with Poland's judiciary.

Poland and the EU are at odds over judicial reforms introduced by Poland's governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party which Brussels warns threaten the country's democracy.

"This is not a technical or a legal question. This is a highly political topic that adds to a long list of provocations aimed at the EU," Beaune said of the Polish ruling.

"When you join a club you sign a contract that is called a treaty, which was ratified by referendum in Poland. This was the choice of the Polish people," he said.

Beaune said Poland's government "does not respect the values and fundamental principles of the EU, women's rights, minority rights, or the independence of the judiciary and the media," he said.

"There are 80 million Polish people and they want to remain in the EU. They did not want this," Beaune said.

The EU Commission said on Thursday it would use all the tools available to ensure the primacy of EU law in Poland.

EU funding ‘blackmail’

Before the ruling, EU economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni had warned that the Polish court case could have “consequences” for the disbursement of Poland’s pandemic recovery funds.

The EU is so far holding off on approving the 23 billion euros ($36 billion) in EU grants and 34 billion in cheap loans.

The Polish government has called Gentiloni’s words “blackmail”.

EU officials have since said that the money could be disbursed next month but with strict rule of law conditions attached.

The European Commission last month also asked the Court of Justice of the European Union court to impose daily fines on Poland until it suspends the judicial reforms.

The dispute with Brussels has focused in particular on a new system for disciplining judges which the EU says is a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary in Poland.

But there are other points of disagreement, including the appointment of judges and the transfer of judges without their consent between different courts or divisions of the same court.

Poland has said that the reforms are needed to root out corruption in the judiciary and has ignored an interim order from the EU court to suspend the judge disciplining system.

‘Polexit’?

The row has raised concerns that Poland might end up leaving the European Union, which could affect the stability of the bloc itself.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the PiS, last month dismissed the notion saying that Poland only wanted an end to EU “interference”.

“There will be no Polexit... We unequivocally see Poland’s future in the European Union,” Kaczynski said.

But Ryszard Terlecki, the deputy speaker of parliament, recently called for “drastic solutions” in Poland’s dispute with the EU.

“The British showed that the dictatorship of Brussels bureaucracy does not suit them. They turned and left,” he said.

Poles are overwhelmingly EU-enthusiastic, with over 80 percent backing membership of the bloc that has given their country billions of euros in subsidies, turbo-charging its economic development since it joined in 2004.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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