Brussels has wanted Poland to change its rules for appointing and removing Polish judges for some time, arguing that they compromise judicial impartiality. But asked to decide whether, if push came to shove, the Polish Constitution or EU law would prevail if the two clashed, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal voted 12-2 for the constitution.
Andrew Tettenborn, a professor of commercial law, has written in Spiked Online that the verdict has left the EU “reeling”.
This is made clear by the bloc’s threat of withdrawing funds to Poland and of excluding the country from the EU’s Covid recovery plan.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said this accounts to blackmail.
Professor Tettenborn agrees, “to a large extent”, that this is right.
In the latest development, Poland has been ordered to pay one million euros for every day it fails to comply with the EU by maintaining its tribunal for hiring and firing judges.
Professor Tettenborn asks how long this battle can last.
He argues that the EU is now faced with a choice; force Poland to conform or “forget about technical matters like the supremacy of EU law”.
“There is little doubt about which is the more sensible course,” Professor Tettenborn says.
Moritz Körner, a German member of the European Parliament, warned Mr Morawiecki that Polexit is becoming a real threat.
“You are sleepwalking toward an exit from the European Union.”
These growing divisions are considered to be big news across the world, with Mr Körner’s comment becoming today’s “Quotation of the Day” in the New York Times.
Mr Morawiecki has attempted on a number of occasions to distance himself from the idea that Poland should leave the EU.
He has accused the Polish opposition of “trying to insinuate that we want to weaken Poland and the European Union by leaving the EU”.
“This is obviously not only fake news, it is even worse. It is simply a lie that is made to weaken the EU.”