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Since the UK voted to quit the bloc in 2016, tensions between other member states and the European Commission have continued to simmer. Anger has been aimed towards the Commission, led by its President Ursula von der Leyen, over a series of issues including the coronavirus rollout and legal disputes. It’s the latter which has this month seen fury erupt between Warsaw and the EU, with genuine concerns being sparked that Poland could be the next member state to quit Brussels.
Poland issued its own warning to EU leaders in September, claiming that it would “have to search for drastic solutions” if Brussels ordered it to bring in judicial reform, or face fines.
Ryszard Terlecki, a spokesman for Poland’s conservative nationalist governing party, Law and Justice, said that while his party wished to remain a member of the EU, Brussels “should be acceptable” of his nation’s own judicial processes.
He added: “If things go the way they are likely to go, we will have to search for drastic solutions.
“The British showed that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy did not suit them and turned around and left.”
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And this week, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal completed a ruling that said “key articles of one of the EU’s primary treaties were incompatible with Polish law”.
This, reports show, meant Poland was effectively swerving EU law, as national legislation would take precedent in some areas over Brussels.
Patryk Wachowiec, research fellow at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law told the BBC: “In practical terms, this ruling introduces aspects of a legal Polexit because it will deepen the problem of judicial co-operation between Polish and European courts, in particular the mutual recognition of judgements.
“I think they are trying to protect their reform of the judiciary.”
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Many political commentators and experts have waded into whether the EU remains as important an institution as it was when first created more than half-a-century ago.
The likes of Sweden, in particular, were considered to be a nation that could follow the UK’s lead in quitting, due to its close political ties to Britain.
And a year after the Brexit vote, five influential figures from Nordic countries issued a joint plea to ensure some nations inside, and outside of the bloc, lessen their ties with Brussels.
Mark Brolin, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, Helle Hagenau, Ulla Klötzer and Erna Bjarnadóttir – from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland – co-authored the opinion piece, which also outlined how the EU would turn against voters who criticised the bloc.
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In the piece they wrote: “We believe it is long overdue that Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland stop tying their prospects – and administrations – to an experiment which is already singing its swan song.
“Starting afresh, without the EU straitjacket, would reinvigorate society especially now when, due to Brexit, there is a golden opportunity to create new functional partnership links with other important trade and security partners.”
They said that “due to the growing scepticism of voters towards the EU, many member states are struggling with political instability at home”.
The five experts, who published their piece in Aftonbladet in 2017, detailed how there was also a “growing friction” with member states of what was deemed “incompatible goals” demanded by the EU.
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The panel added: “Thus, the so-called pacifier of peace has become a source of disagreement.
“Public debate is more constrained than ever since democratisation; the treatment of EU critics seems to have set low moral standards.
“And the people? EU spokesmen gave voters a top rating while supporting the Union.
“Now, when the voice of the electorate is mixed with scepticism, a large part of Europeans are described as narrow-minded, old-fashioned and isolationist or in the power of ‘dark forces’.”