EU: Expert on fears of Poland being 'marginalised'
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Poland’s future position in the EU has been thrown into question following a string of court battles. The country is governed by the eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS), which has repeatedly moved to undermine EU legislation. This week, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal – its top court – adjourned its case over whether provisions in EU law are compatible with the country’s constitution.
While the proceedings will resume later this week, the move will likely deepen the crisis of relations even further.
Warsaw claims the European Commission is committing unjustified interference in Poland’s internal affairs.
Yet critics say questioning the primacy of EU law undermines the functioning of the bloc and, vitally, jeopardises Poland’s membership.
This is unlikely to concern PiS and its members who hold the posts of Prime Minister and President who are openly anti-Brussels.
In fact, the party would likely be more than happy to withdraw Poland’s participation in the bloc given its members’ previous rhetoric.
Last year, PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński voiced fears that Poland could lose its “sovereignty” to the EU – something that was a deciding factor in the UK’s Brexit vote.
He said agreeing to rule of law conditions in the country’s budget would be a “loss of sovereignty for our country”.
Should PiS act on such an argument, the EU’s influence on it and in the surrounding region could slowly crumble.
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Shortly after, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sent a letter to the EU threatening to veto its 2021-2027 budget if access to EU funds was made conditional on governments respecting the rule of law.
Eventually, Brussels succumbed to the demands of both Poland and Hungary, the two managing to avert the threat of losing EU funds over the rule of law breaches.
These diversions are only believed to be temporary, however.
In the most recent hearing, Krzysztof Szczucki of the Government Legislation Centre told the court: “The constitution occupies the highest position in the hierarchy of legal acts.
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“It was not possible to delegate to an authority external to the state the competence to issue decisions that undermine the constitution.”
Ultimately, PiS argues that the EU interferes in Poland’s right to make its own laws by challenging the reforms, undermining the country’s decision making process.
In March, Mr Morawiecki asked the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether Poland’s constitution should take precedence.
The country has had a turbulent few years in its relationship with the EU aside from the constitutional question.
Politico notes that Poland and Brussels also have completely different interpretations and visions of the same things.
It said that while the EU uses terms like “money” or “funds” when discussing budgets, PiS instead refers to “ideology”, “sovereignty” and “civilisation”.
Mr Morawiecki has made several anti-EU speeches to the Polish parliament, most recently defending the budgetary veto in which he likened the bloc to Poland’s former communist regime, railed against “arbitrary decisions” by “eurocrats” and “the European oligarchy.”
Despite the government’s opposition to the bloc, it is widely known that the EU is popular among Poles.
In the 2003 accession referendum, 74 percent of voters backed joining the EU, and according to Politico, “they’ve become even more pro-EU since then”.
Since 2004, Poland has received a net €127billion (£108bn) – more than any other member country.
It is unclear how the EU will bend Poland to play to its tune.
Many note that it must do something before Poland goes too far in undermining its legitimacy and power on the continent.
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