Brussels threatens to cut EU funds to Poland as ‘Polexit’ row turns nasty

Former Polish minister: Morawiecki may engineer Polexit

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The European Commission suggested it could withhold money from Poland’s share of the coronavirus recovery fund due to the spat over rule of law. “We are analysing the Polish decision also in that light,” an EU spokesman said. The EU’s executive body said it would not “hesitate” to launch further legal action against Warsaw.

It comes after the European Court of Justice ruled that a new disciplinary chamber for judges set up by the Polish government violated EU law.

The Luxembourg-based court said it did not provide sufficient guarantees of impartiality and independence, and was not protected from the influence of politicians.

The EU spokesman added: “This reaffirms our concerns about the state of rule of law in Poland.

“EU law has primacy over national law. All decisions by the ECJ, including interim measures, are binding on national courts.

“The Commission expects of Poland that all decisions of the ECJ are fully and correctly implemented.”

The ruling sparked fears of a so-called “Polexit” as the long-running battle between Brussels and Warsaw reaches fever pitch.

Adam Bodnar, Poland’s outgoing ombudsman, said: “We are constantly in the process of a legal ‘Polexit’, which is taking place step by step.

“We will see where it leads us, and whether we finally realise that path we are on.”

Poland’s top constitutional court had already ruled on Wednesday that a ruling by the ECJ against the country’s judicial reforms was “not in line” with the constitution.

Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro said the ruling was “against interference, usurpation and legal aggression by organs of the European Union”.

Former EU Council boss Donald Tusk said the ruling was a tilt towards Poland leaving the EU altogether.

He said: “It is not Poland but (Law and Justice leader) Jaroslaw Kaczynski that is leaving the EU together with his party.”

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“Only we Poles can effectively oppose that,” the former Polish prime minister said.

Poland joined the EU in 2004 but long-held differences have put Warsaw and Brussels on a collision course.

The feud has been fuelled by the governing Law and Justice party, which is fast-tracking its conservative reform agenda of the country some 30 years after communism collapsed.

EU Parliament bigwigs have expressed their concerns over the Polish court’s ruling.

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Socialist leader Iratxe Garcia Perez said it “is an attack on the EU legal order”, calling for the Commission to “react with all tools” at their disposal.

EPP chief Manfred Weber said: “Very concerned by the ruling of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal.

“This should serve as a warning to all Poles who are truly pro-European and want a European future for their children and grandchildren: your government is clearly on the path to Polexit.”

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