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EU has 'no say' over Poland’s judicial system: ruling party leader

07.10.2021 21:00
Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, on Thursday said the European Union had no authority over the country’s judicial system, as he commented on a verdict by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which ruled some articles of the bloc’s treaties unconstitutional.
Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Polands ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, on Thursday said the European Union had no authority over his countrys judicial system.
Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, on Thursday said the European Union had no authority over his country’s judicial system.PAP/Artur Reszko

The high-profile ruling by the Warsaw-based constitutional court came after a motion by conservative Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. It appeared to question a key tenet of European integration and added to friction between Warsaw and Brussels.

Just as the tribunal was announcing its verdict on whether the national constitution or the EU law took precedence, Kaczyński appeared at a news conference in the eastern city of Białystok and was asked what he thought the ruling should be, the state news agency PAP reported.

“Hopefully the Tribunal will state the obvious, just as it has on other occasions and just as the tribunals of nine other member states have ruled--namely that in Poland the constitution is the supreme legal act,” Kaczyński said, as quoted by PAP.

“To rule otherwise would be to say that Poland is not a sovereign country, and that there is no democracy, because there are no citizens, no people who decide who governs and how,” he added.

“In areas where we haven’t agreed to hand even some of the powers to the EU, only Polish rules apply and the EU has no say, it cannot interfere--for example with regard to the judicial system,” Kaczyński also told reporters.

“I would still like to believe that the EU is a European organisation, and in European culture, law matters and treaties matter," he also said.

The constitutional judges handed down their decision after the EU accused the Polish government of politicizing the country's courts, including the Constitutional Tribunal.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said in a comment that "the primacy of constitutional law over other sources of law results directly from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland."

He added: "Today this has (once again) been clearly confirmed by the Constitutional Tribunal."

Critics at home and abroad have warned that challenging the supremacy of EU law could harm Poland's future in the bloc and undermine the stability of the 27-nation European Union.

Opposition politicians in Poland have slammed the government for putting the country on a collision course with Brussels, warning that questioning the primacy of EU law could eventually result in a "Polexit," or Poland's departure from the bloc.

Kaczyński last month ruled out any plans to take his country out of the EU, saying that "there will not be any Polexit whatsoever."

He added that "such claims" were "a propaganda trick," employed "repeatedly" by his party's political opponents.

"We see Poland's future unequivocally in the EU, but want to resolve the crisis currently besetting the bloc," Kaczyński said in a media interview at the time.

Amid a long-standing dispute over whether national law takes precedence over EU law, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal in July ruled that interim measures imposed by the EU’s top court on Poland's justice system were against the national constitution.

Most Poles say national law has primacy over EU law: survey

Meanwhile, most Poles believe that their national law takes precedence over European Union law, according to a survey.

Seventy-eight percent of those polled by the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily and private radio broadcaster RMF FM last year said the Polish constitution had primacy over the laws of the European Union, of which Poland has been part since 2004.

Sixty-three percent said national law as a whole should take precedence over EU law, according to a report.

Polish judicial system 'deeply flawed': PM

Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in late 2015 and secured a second term in October 2019, has argued that broad changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system marred by communist holdovers.

The changes have triggered a series of clashes between Warsaw and Brussels.

The Polish prime minister has said that some of the legal changes made by his conservative government have met with criticism abroad because they are not understood in Western Europe.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki argued in 2017 that his country’s judicial system was “deeply flawed” and that his ruling conservatives were elected with a mandate to overhaul it.


Source: PAP