The standoff between the European Union and Warsaw, over the independence of Polish justice and the rule of law of the EU, has imposed itself on the agenda of the summit of the leaders of the Twenty-Seven, who meet Thursday October 21 and Friday October 22 in Brussels.
Even before the opening of this meeting, the head of the Polish government Mateusz Morawiecki met French President Emmanuel Macron, and was to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We will not act under the pressure of blackmail [mais] we are ready for dialogue (…). We will of course discuss how to resolve the current disputes ”, said Mateusz Morawiecki after an interview with the president.
During his meeting with Mr. Morawiecki, the French head of state “Expressed its concerns about the situation created by the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court”, said the Elysee. “He called on his counterpart to engage in a dialogue with the Commission to find a solution compatible with our principles and our common rules”, according to the same source.
Years of tension between Brussels and Warsaw
Poland has been in conflict with the European Union for several years over judicial reforms undertaken by the ruling nationalist conservative party, Law and Justice (PiS). They are accused of undermining the independence of judges.
Tensions have increased since a decision on October 7 by the Constitutional Court – close to the PiS and seized by Mateusz Morawiecki – which declared certain articles of European treaties incompatible with the national Constitution. The decision was denounced by Brussels as an unprecedented attack on the primacy of European law and the competence of the Court of Justice of the EU, but also as the ultimate illustration of the lack of independence of the Polish judiciary in the regard to the government.
It provoked tense exchanges Tuesday in the European Parliament between the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who promised to crack down on Warsaw, and the Polish Prime Minister, who hammered the supremacy of the national Constitution.
“The EU is at a crucial moment when it must choose either to continue the language of force and blackmail, which will lead in my opinion to the atrophy of the organization, or to return to its roots, to the sovereignty of the member states “Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told Polish media on Thursday morning. After his meeting with Angela Merkel, the Polish leader will have a meeting with his counterparts from the Visegrad group (Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia).
The EU has other tools to enforce the rule of law, but some of them are cumbersome to implement, and member countries are opposed to any haste. MEPs are putting pressure on the Commission – by threatening it with legal action – to immediately trigger a new mechanism to suspend payments of European funds to countries where state violations are noted. of law affecting the Community budget.
The procedure could target Poland and Hungary, another country regularly pinned by Brussels. But member states advocate waiting for the opinion of the Court of Justice of the EU on this regulation before using it.