On October 19th, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the EU of “blackmail”.
He did so in a “public clash” with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen over his country’s rejection of parts of EU law.
Von der Leyen, speaking just before Morawiecki took the podium, warned that the Commission “will act” to rein Poland in.
“We cannot and we will not allow our common values to be put at risk,” she said, enumerating legal, financial and political options being considered.
Morawiecki, in a speech running over his allotted time, hit back by saying “it is unacceptable to talk about financial penalties… I will not have EU politicians blackmail Poland.”
A ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court on October 7th questioning parts of EU law ratcheted up tensions with Brussels that have been festering for years.
Describing Poland’s emergence from Communist rule and its transition to democracy as an EU member country, von der Leyen said:
“The people of Poland wanted democracy … they wanted the freedom to choose their government, they wanted free speech and free media, they wanted an end to corruption and they wanted independent courts to protect their rights.”
“This is what Europe is about and that is what Europe stands for,” she added. “The recent ruling of the Polish Constitutional Court puts much of it into question.”
Von der Leyen said her team was still studying the Polish constitutional court’s decision.
“The European Commission is at the moment carefully assessing this judgement but I can already tell you today I am deeply concerned,” she said, adding: “We cannot and will not allow our common values to be put at risk.”
In response, Morawiecki alleged discrimination against Poland and accused other EU countries of taking a selective approach in the adherence to fundamental principles and to the enforcement of EU rules.
He also insisted that the ruling of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal should be of no particular concern, while accusing Brussels of overstepping its authority and trying to create a supranational state without the consent of member countries.
“The highest law in the EU is the constitution of a country,” Morawiecki said.
“The EU will not fall apart simply because our legal systems will be different,” he said at another point, adding: “If you want to make a non-national superstate out of Europe, first get the consent of all the European states and societies.”
He called the EU “a strong political and economical organism,” then added: “It is the strongest best developed international organization in history, but the EU is not a state.”
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