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Warsaw

Polish Constitutional Court declares EU law incompatible

The dispute between Warsaw and Brussels over Poland's judicial reform is escalating. The Polish Constitutional Court ruled that elements of EU law violate the country's constitution. This could allow Poland to disregard the judgments of the ECJ.

Published: October 8, 2021, 7:13 am

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    “The attempt by the European Court of Justice to interfere in the Polish judicial system violates (…) the rule of primacy of the constitution and the rule that sovereignty is preserved in the process of European integration,” the judges ruled on Thursday.

    Specifically, the procedure was aimed at discerning whether provisions from the EU treaties, with which the EU Commission justifies its right to have a say in questions of the rule of law, are compatible with the Polish constitution.

    Among other things, the Brussels authority has doubts about the independence of the Polish Constitutional Court, which has now determined that national law takes precedence over EU law. The chair is Julia Przylebska, a close confidante of PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

    “The EU institutions act outside the limits of the competence that Poland gives them,” said Przylebska when pronouncing the verdict.

    The EU Commission expressed its “concern” about the ruling. Brussels will use “all means” to ensure that EU law is respected in Poland, said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders on Thursday. The principle that EU law takes precedence over national law and the binding character of decisions by the EU judiciary are central to the confederation of states, he said.

    Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had asked the Polish Constitutional Court to review a judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of March 2, 2021. In this ruling, the top EU judges found that EU law can force member states to disregard individual provisions in national law, even if it is constitutional law.

    Because of the reforms, the EU Commission has already opened several infringement proceedings against the government in Warsaw and has filed lawsuits with the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

    Poland’s government had actually relied on a German constitutional court ruling. In May 2020, the Karlsruhe judges objected to the European Central Bank’s bond purchases worth billions – and thus opposed an ECJ ruling for the first time.

    The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Germany, reserved the right to carry out the final inspection.

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