EU 'will start COLLAPSING' if it does not overturn ruling by Poland

The EU ‘will start COLLAPSING’ if it does not overturn ruling by Poland’s top court that national legislation trump European laws, official warns

  • More than 100,000 people protested in Poland on Sunday in support of the EU
  • Comes amid fear about the prospect of a so-called ‘Polexit’ if country leaves bloc
  • Vera Jourova warned EU could start collapsing if it does not challenge Poland

The European Union ‘will start collapsing’ unless it challenges a ruling by Poland’s top court that national legislation trumps European laws, a senior official with the bloc said on Monday.

Poland’s constitutional tribunal ruled against the central tenet of European integration last week, sharply escalating a row over fundamental values between eurosceptics ruling in Warsaw and most of the other 27 EU countries.

More than 100,000 people protested in Poland on Sunday in support of the EU, sounding the alarm about what they fear is a prospect of their country following Britain and leaving the bloc in a ‘Polexit.’

Thousands attend ‘We’re staying in EU’ demonstration at the Main Square in Krakow

Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner from Poland’s neighbor, the Czech Republic

‘If we don’t uphold the principle in the EU that equal rules are respected the same everywhere in Europe, the whole Europe will start collapsing,’ said Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner from Poland’s neighbor, the Czech Republic.

‘That is why we will have to react to this new chapter which the Polish constitutional court started to draw,’ said Jourova, in charge of values and transparency at the executive European Commission.

One way or another, the tribunal ruling is likely to cost Warsaw.

It follows prolonged and divisive disputes in which Poland stands accused by many Western countries, international rights watchdogs and advocates of curtailing the independence of media and courts, as well as infringing on the rights of women, migrants and LGBT people since the Law and Justice (PiS) party won power in 2015.

The commission, the guardian of EU treaties, is already withholding its approval for Poland’s recovery plan necessary to let Warsaw to tap into billions of euros available on top of other handouts from the bloc and meant to help revive economic growth mauled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apart from blocking the disbursement of COVID recovery funds to Poland, the commission might press ahead with a new and yet-to-be-tested enforcement tool to suspend funding for states deemed violating key values enshrined in European laws.

Other countries in the bloc could revive a stalled probe into the undercutting of democratic rights in Poland, which could go all the way to suspending Warsaw’s vote in the bloc. But that is unlikely.

The Brussels-based commission could also launch a new legal case against Warsaw for violating EU laws. It could culminate in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) slapping penalties on the Polish government.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday dismissed the idea of ‘Polexit.’

‘This is a harmful myth which the opposition substitutes for its lack of ideas on the proper position of Poland in Europe,’ he said.

EU Industry Commissioner from France Thierry Breton said he did not believe ‘for one second’ there would be a ‘Polexit.’

EU membership support remains overwhelmingly high in Poland, the largest ex-communist country in the bloc and a top beneficiary of financial aid from the union meant to help poorer members catch up in development with the wealthier ones.

People take part in a protest against the judgment of Polish Constitutional Tribunal and in support of EU at the castle square in Warsaw

Ratings agency Moody’s estimates Poland has received net EU funding worth 2 per cent of its national GDP per year on average since joining the bloc in 2004 and that the figure earmarked for 2021-27 amounted to about 3.2 per cent.

‘The dispute is credit negative. Poland is a substantial net beneficiary of EU funding, which has been a key driver of growth and convergence with EU income levels,’ said Steffen Dyck, Vice President, Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s.

According to the organisers, protests took place in over 100 towns and cities across Poland and several cities abroad, with 80,000-100,000 people gathering in the capital Warsaw alone, waving Polish and EU flags and shouting ‘We are staying’.

Donald Tusk, a former head of the European Council and now leader of the main opposition party Civic Platform, said the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s policies were jeopardising Poland’s future in Europe.

‘We know why they want to leave (the EU) … so that they can violate democratic rules with impunity,’ he said, speaking in front of Warsaw’s Royal Castle, surrounded by thousands of protesters flanked by police vans flashing their lights.

Donald Tusk, a former head of the European Council and now leader of the main opposition party Civic Platform, said the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s policies were jeopardising Poland’s future in Europe

PiS says it has no plans for a ‘Polexit’.

But right-wing populist governments in Poland and Hungary have found themselves increasingly at odds with the European Commission over issues ranging from LGBT rights to judicial independence.

‘Just as Brexit suddenly became a fact, something no-one expected, the same thing can happen here,’ said Janusz Kuczynski, 59, standing in a street in Warsaw’s historic district leading up to the Royal Castle.

Welcoming the court ruling on Thursday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said each member state must be treated with respect and the EU should not be only ‘a grouping of those who are equal and more equal’.

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