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Polish top court 'reaffirmed hierarchy of sources of law': foreign ministry

11.10.2021 00:15
In a key ruling last week, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal "reaffirmed the hierarchy of the sources of law" in the country and across the European Union, the Polish foreign ministry has said. 
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled last Thursday that parts of EU treaties were incompatible with the Polish constitution, adding to a long-running dispute between Poland's governing conservatives and EU institutions.

The verdict appeared to question a key tenet of European integration and threatened to escalate tension between Warsaw and Brussels.

"The judgement of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland of 7 October reaffirmed the hierarchy of the sources of law binding in Poland and in the European Union," the Polish foreign ministry said in a statement in English.

It added: "The first place in this hierarchy is always reserved for national constitutions of EU member states. EU treaties, as acts of international law, have priority over domestic law of a statutory rank, but they cannot precede constitutions."

Some EU acts 'ultra vires'

The Polish foreign ministry also said that the constitutional courts "of many EU member states ... have repeatedly held that certain acts of the EU institutions, in particular of the Court of Justice of the EU, may be considered ultra vires, i.e. to exceed the powers granted to these institutions by the treaties."

It said rulings to this effect had in the past been handed down by courts in France, Denmark, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain and Romania.

"The strongest line of jurisprudence in this respect has been established since the 1970s by the German Federal Constitutional Court," it added.

According to its statement, dated Oct. 9, "the Polish Constitutional Tribunal has also issued similar rulings in the past – while being composed of judges elected by the Polish Parliament in all political configurations since Poland's accession to the EU."

EU law 'will continue to be fully respected'

The Polish foreign ministry also said in its statement that Poland would continue to respect European Union law after the country's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that some articles of the EU treaties were against Poland's constitution.

"All obligations arising from both primary and secondary European Union law remain in force and thus, will continue to be fully respected by Poland," the Polish foreign ministry said.

It added: "The provisions of the Treaty of the European Union indicated in the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 7 October remain in force. What cannot be accepted, are only the forms of their interpretation or application that violate the Constitution of the Republic of Poland."

Poland's conservative Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week that the Constitutional Tribunal 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.


Source: IAR, gov.pl