Home World EU faces bitter courtroom showdown as Poland-Hungary row explodes

EU faces bitter courtroom showdown as Poland-Hungary row explodes

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Germany calls on Poland to “fully” implement EU law

Warsaw and Brussels have been at odds since 2015 over a series of issues including media freedoms and LGBT rights. Their tense relations are culminating in a disagreement about EU laws, which the Polish government says are not compatible with its constitution. MEPs on Thursday voted to sue the EU Commission for not having applied a new regulation yet that punishes violations of the rule of law. 13 MEPs voted in favour of the inaction lawsuit; three against, and six abstained, as the German Press Agency dpa learned from parliamentary circles.

Seeing a failure of action from the Commission, those in favour recommended European Parliament president David Sassoli to file a complaint at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Meanwhile, Hungary has shown Poland full support over a confrontation with Brussels.

Hungarian justice minister Judit Varga, back in 2019, described the EU mission as a “witch-hunt” – a stance that she still maintains, reinforcing the two countries’ shared view on the bloc and making them strong allies.

Hungary’s ruling conservative Fidesz party and Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) government agree that the EU should not interfere in how member states command their judiciary.

While they do not seem interested in reversing EU integration, they both want to stop Brussels from accumulating powers and stand ready to help one another to prevent EU disciplinary procedures that demand unanimity among member states.

READ MORE: Polexit fears as Poland throws down the gauntlet to Brussels in fury at migrant chaos

Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission President

The EU Commission faces threats of a lawsuit from MEPs who want to see Poland and Hungary sanctioned (Image: Getty)

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Rallies were held in Poland last weekend in response to a court ruling that said key EU laws were “incompatible” with the Polish constitution – in particular, those concerning judicial independence.

The ruling raised concerns Poland could follow Britain and leave the EU… adding fuel to Polexit speculations.

But Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s Prime Minister, clarified there were no plans for Polexit.

Writing on Facebook, he said: “This is a harmful myth which the opposition uses for its own lack of ideas about Poland’s responsible place in Europe.”

The EU Commission’s response to the ruling was of “deep concern”.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, said the bloc would use “all the powers” available to safeguard their principles. “I have instructed the Commission’s services to analyse it [the ruling] thoroughly and swiftly.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki dismissed speculation about Poland considering to leave the EU (Image: Getty)

“On this basis, we will decide on next steps.

“We will uphold the founding principles of our Union’s legal order.”

The EU chief added that protecting the rights of Polish citizens and ensuring they “enjoy the benefits granted by membership of the European Union, just like all citizens of our Union” was the bloc’s “utmost priority”.

“EU citizens as well as companies doing business in Poland,” she stressed, “need the legal certainty that EU rules, including rulings of the European Court of Justice, are fully applied in Poland.”

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She continued: “Our Treaties are very clear.

“All rulings by the European Court of Justice are binding on all Member States’ authorities, including national courts.

“EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions.

“This is what all EU Member States have signed up to as members of the European Union.”

The EU rule of law framework has been in force since the start of the year. It states that EU countries can suspend funds from the bloc’s joint budget if there is a threat of misuse of the money.

Hungary and Poland, fearing the new procedure would be used against them, agreed to it with the condition to challenge the new system at the EU’s top court in Luxembourg.

Brussels has long been clear in that it would not use the rule of law mechanism until the European Court of Justice approved it. But impatient MEPs are threatening the EU Commission’s stance.

German MEP Sergey Lagodinsky said: “While the Commission is struggling, Parliament is pressing ahead.”

Emphasising the exact point that encouraged the creation of the rule of law mechanism, he added: “The restriction of fundamental rights and the independence of the judiciary by governments in Hungary or Poland are a serious danger for the citizens of these countries, but also for the supervision of EU funds that are allocated to these governments.”

EU member states — especially France and Germany — are hoping for an urgent green light for the Commission to take action against Hungary and Poland.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg



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