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English Section

Poland won’t be 'blackmailed,' PM tells MEPs in debate over rule of law

19.10.2021 13:45
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday took part in a debate in the European Parliament on the rule of law in Poland and vowed his government would not give in to financial and political "blackmail" over its judicial reforms.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday addressed lawmakers in the European Parliament, vowing his government would not give in to political blackmail over the rule of law.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday addressed lawmakers in the European Parliament, vowing his government would not give in to political "blackmail" over the rule of law.PAP/Albert Zawada

The debate was held after a landmark judgement by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which ruled earlier this month that parts of EU treaties were incompatible with the Polish constitution.

The verdict added to a long-running dispute between the Polish government and EU institutions. It appeared to question a key tenet of European integration and threatened to escalate tension between Warsaw and Brussels.

Since the top court’s verdict, Poland’s ruling conservatives have been accused by the opposition of effectively preparing an exit from the European Union, of which the country has been part since 2004.

Morawiecki reassured the EU’s lawmakers that European integration represented "a civilisational and strategic choice" for his country.

"We are here, we belong here and we are not going anywhere,” he declared.

He added that Warsaw sought to “make Europe strong, ambitious and courageous again,” by supporting the common market, the bloc’s strategic autonomy, enlargement to include the Western Balkans, and the ambitious post-pandemic recovery fund, among other policies.

Morawiecki also told the European Parliament, as quoted in English by his office, that “over 85 percent of Polish citizens say clearly: Poland is and is to remain a member of the EU,” while “my government and the parliamentary majority standing behind it are part of this pro-European majority in Poland.”

But he also said that all "too often we have a Europe of double standards,” whereas "the rules of the game must be the same for everyone," including the institutions established by the EU treaties, because "these are the foundations of the rule of law."

"It is unacceptable to extend powers, to act by means of accomplished facts," Morawiecki told the EU assembly.

He added: "It is unacceptable to impose one's decisions on others without a legal basis. It is all the more unacceptable to use the language of financial blackmail for this purpose, to talk about penalties, or to use even more far-reaching words against certain member states."

Referring to the dispute over the primacy of EU law, Morawiecki said that “Union law precedes national law - to the level of the statutes and in the areas of competence granted to the Union."

He told the European legislature: "This principle applies in all EU countries. But the Constitution remains the supreme law."

He added that “if the institutions established by the Treaties exceed their powers, member states must have the instruments to react.”

Morawiecki also argued that the latest verdict by Poland’s top court was similar to rulings issued in the past in France, Germany and Denmark.  

He told EU lawmakers that his country was not in breach of the rule of law, but "respects the principles of the Union."

He also said that Poland "will not be intimidated" and "expects dialogue” with Brussels.

He stated: "I reject the language of threats, hazing and coercion. I do not agree to politicians blackmailing and threatening Poland. I do not agree blackmail to become a method of conducting policy towards a member state. That's not how democracies do things."

Morawiecki proposed that, to facilitate dialogue, the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) "could be equipped with a chamber "consisting of judges nominated by the constitutional courts of the member states.”

In its landmark judgement earlier this month, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal asserted the primacy of the national constitution over EU law and paved the way for the government’s judicial reforms, which, according to critics, politicise the judiciary, the state PAP news agency reported.


Source: PAP, TVP Info, gov.pl

Click on the "Play" button above for an audio report by Radio Poland’s Michał Owczarek.