At the European Council, Warsaw will have to explain itself on the rule of law

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has had several occasions to repeat this. He will not back down in front of his European peers in Brussels on October 21 and 22. In a letter sent to 26 other heads of state and government on Monday, October 18, he stood firm in defending the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court. At his request, the national judges ruled on October 7 that certain articles of the Treaty on European Union (EU) were “Incompatible” with the Polish Constitution. In his letter, Mateusz Morawiecki insists: the EU must not become a “Body managed centrally by institutions devoid of any democratic control”.

A poorly engaged dialogue

The next day, in front of MEPs and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, he hit the nail on the head. “The European Union is not a state. On the other hand, the Union has 27 Member States! It is the States which remain European sovereigns, they are “masters of the treaties”, and it is the States which determine the extent of the powers conferred on the Union. ” Problem: this position calls into question the principle of the primacy of European law, a precondition for confidence in the justice system of other Member States.

In this context, the Commission does not risk validating the 36 billion euros of its recovery plan. Mateusz Morawiecki shouts at “Financial blackmail”but also to discrimination: the German, French, Danish, Spanish, Italian and Romanian constitutional courts have rendered comparable decisions. At the Élysée, this argument is defeated. “Alignments can happen through dialogue between the courts, a dispute can give rise to a change in the law, but there is no parallel to be drawn with a frontal attack on the EU treaty as was the case. ‘Polish stop’, one replies in the entourage of Emmanuel Macron.

Small and large means

On the same line, Ursula von der Leyen promised on Tuesday: “The Commission will act. “ She mentions three ways to defend EU law, starting with an infringement procedure before the Court of Justice of the EU. This infringement remedy could ultimately lead to heavy financial penalties against Poland. Another means: the call for article 7 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which in theory allows the suspension of the voting rights of the offending country, on condition of achieving an improbable unanimity. Last lever: the conditionality mechanism for the payment of European funds. Poland and Hungary are contesting the legality of this tool before the CJEU. It will not be truly operational until the end of the process, next year.

No conclusion is expected after the summit. Berlin wants to give dialogue a chance, unlike the Netherlands and the Nordic countries which advocate the hard way. “We will probably soon have to count ourselves”, we say at the Elysee, while the triggering of article 7 requires a majority of 4 fifths. In the meantime, Ursula von der Leyen is playing a chord. In front of MEPs, she did not hesitate to allude to the twin brother, who died in 2010, of the one who pulls the strings of the ruling PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński. « When President Lech Kaczyński ratified the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, he reaffirmed Poland’s attachment to our values ​​”, she stressed to the leader. His legacy is now in danger.


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