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PM says court upheld Polish constitution by declaring its primacy over EU law

08.10.2021 11:30
Poland's conservative prime minister has said his country's top court confirmed the primacy of the national constitution over European Union law when it ruled some articles of the bloc’s treaties unconstitutional in the country.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Mateusz Morawiecki's remarks came after Poland's Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday ruled that parts of EU treaties were incompatible with the Polish constitution, adding to friction between Warsaw and Brussels.

The high-profile ruling by the Warsaw-based constitutional court followed a motion by Morawiecki, who asked it in March whether EU institutions could stop Poland from overhauling its judicial system.

The verdict appeared to question a key tenet of European integration and threatened to escalate a long-running dispute between Morawiecki's governing conservatives and EU institutions.

Poland’s place is in 'European family of nations'

In a Facebook post late on Thursday, Morawiecki wrote that Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004 was “one of the most important events in decades” and “benefited us all.”

“This is why I’m making it clear that Poland’s place is and will be among the European family of nations,” Morawiecki declared, as quoted by state news agency PAP.

Referring to the ruling, he said “it confirmed what follows literally from the constitution, namely that constitutional law takes precedence over other sources of law.”

He also argued that "in recent years, the constitutional tribunals of many EU member states have judged the same."

Morawiecki added: “We have the same rights as other countries. We would like these rights to be respected. We’re not intruders in the EU. And so we won’t be treated as a second-rate member.”

He also wrote: “We want a community of respect, not an association of those who are equal and more equal. This is also our community, our Union - this is the kind of Union we want and that's the kind of Union we will continue to constitute.”

'EU has no say': conservative leader

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of Poland's governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jarosław Kaczyński, said that the primacy of the constitution over EU regulations was “obvious.”

“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 told a news conference.

“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.

Prezes Prawa i Sprawiedliwości Jarosław Kaczyński Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

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 tweet 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.

'There will not be any Polexit'

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.

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