The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament, sounded the alarm on Thursday (7 October), warning that Poland’s ruling party is pushing the country towards ‘Polexit’.
Poland’s highest court ruled on Thursday (7 October) that parts of EU treaties are incompatible with the Polish constitution, challenging a key tenet of European integration in a sharp escalation of a dispute between Brussels and Warsaw over the rule of law.
Poland is ruled by the Law and Justice party (PiS) of Jarosław Kaczyński, a right-wing national-conservative force which dominates the European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR) group in the European Parliament.
The sister party of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Poland is the Civic Platform (PO), founded by Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who was President of the European Council in Brussels before leading the EPP party itself.
The Civic Platform is the main challenger of PiS and many believe that Tusk, who left the EPP’s top job to return to Poland, could unite the opposition ahead of the 2023 parliamentary elections.
“It’s hard to believe the Polish authorities and the PiS Party when they claim that they don’t want to put an end to Poland’s membership of the EU,” said Jeroen Lenaers, a Dutch lawmaker from the EPP group in the European Parliament.
“Their actions go in the opposite direction. Enough is enough. The Polish Government has lost its credibility. This is an attack on the EU as a whole”, said Lenaers who is Group Spokesman for Justice and Home Affairs.
The Poles are overwhelmingly pro-EU and indeed, to avoid controversy over EU membership, PiS claims that it is not seeking Polexit.
“By declaring that the EU Treaties are not compatible with Polish law, the illegitimate Constitutional Tribunal in Poland has put the country on the path to Polexit,” Lenaers said, stressing that the court pronounced its verdict at the request of Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
“With this request, Morawiecki has not only legitimised an illegal system of the judiciary in Poland, but he has also questioned the very basis of the European Union. And he did it despite the calls of the whole democratic world not to do so,” the Dutchman stated.
“EU member states must not stand by idly when the rule of law continues to be dismantled by the Polish Government. Neither can the European Commission. Our money can’t finance the governments which mock and negate our jointly-agreed rules,” he continued.
“The consequences must be drawn, and the European Commission should immediately use all available tools in order not to sponsor the autocrats in Warsaw,” he concluded.
Hungary stands in support of Poland, but the Netherlands has indicated that it would not hesitate taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for disrespecting the rule of law.
The liberal ‘Renew Europe’ political group also condemned the ruling by the Polish constitutional tribunal and urged the EU Commission to stand firm and reject attempts by the Polish Government to use this decision for blackmail.
Malik Azmani, First Vice-President of Renew Europe, called on the Commission to trigger the rule of law conditionality mechanism and refrain from releasing funds under the EU’s €750 billion coronavirus recovery plan until it is certain that the EU’s fundamental values and laws are upheld in Poland.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]