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Poland’s defiance of EU law raises concern over a possible exit


Protester wave an EU flag before the Constitutional Tribunal of Warsaw in Poland.

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Poland’s highest court has ruled that some EU laws conflict with the country’s own constitution — a move that has raised concerns about Poland’s commitment to the Union.

Since several years, the European Commission (the executive arm of EU) and the conservative government of Poland have been at odds over the rule-of-law. Brussels accuses Warsaw of undermining independence in the judiciary system. It has so far resisted the decision to release funds for post-pandemic recovery of around 30 billion euros (or 34 billion dollars).

Polish judges have ruled that Polish law is superior to European rules in the latest round of dispute resolution.

The Polish Constitutional Court does not question the primacy principle of EU law over country law. It is however the first such challenge from an illegally constructed Court, and it comes in rebellious terms,” Alberto Alemanno (a professor of European Law at H.E.C. Paris, told CNBC via email.

He said, “This frontal assault is set to backfire both within the EU, which will continue to approve the national recovery program, as well as in Poland, where Poles may start questioning the EU’s position on their government.”

Opinion polls show that Polish voters are overwhelmingly pro-European — a far cry from Britain which voted to leave the EU in 2016.

It is an attack against the EU in its entirety.

Jeroen Lenaers

European lawmaker

And even more, the Polish government supports the EU project. Its actions do raise some questions as to whether this is true.

Jeroen Leonaers, member of the European Parliament who is also the spokesperson of the largest political bloc in the European Parliament said that it was difficult for him to believe both the Polish authorities (ruling) and the PiS Party.

He said, “This attack is on the EU in its entirety,” following the court’s ruling.

France’s European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune also said Friday that the decision out of Poland was “very serious” and adds to the risk of a possible exit from the bloc. 

CNBC reached the Polish government for comment on Friday, but it was unavailable.

However, the commission stated that it would not hesitate to use its Treaty powers to protect the uniformity and integrity of Union law.

A proposal by the Commission to suspend Poland’s voting rights within the EU would represent the greatest escalation. It would require approval from a majority of the EU member states.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated in a Friday statement that she was deeply disturbed by the ruling yesterday of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal.

She stated, “Our Treaties have been very clear” that EU law is superior to national law.