EU is ‘using rule of law as form of blackmail’ says Dutch MEP
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Poland’s leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has pledged his government will take no further steps to meet the EU Commission’s demands on the rule of law debate. Poland has been waiting for €35 billion to be unlocked for its country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic on the condition it would make changes to its judicial system.
Mr Kaczynski insisted Poland has now met its side of the deal with the EU executive and that it is prepared to take legal action against Ursula von der Leyen’s team unless the money is released.
Speaking to the pro-government Sieci news portal, he said: “We have shown maximum goodwill, but concessions have yielded nothing.
“It’s time to learn lessons.
“Since the European Commission is not fulfilling its obligation to Poland in this area, we have no reason to fulfil our obligations to the European Union.”
The PiS’ secretary-general Krysztof Sobolewski, went even further by saying: “If the European Commission tries to push us against the wall, we will have no choice but to pull out all the cannons in our arsenal and open fire.”
He warned Poland would take a “tooth by tooth” approach and veto EU initiatives at Council summits in a retaliating move.
Last month, the European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova, said that Poland’s new law dismantling the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court does not yet fulfil the conditions for the Commission to disburse the Recovery Fund.
Speaking in the European Parliament, Ms Jourova said the bill proposed by Polish President Andrzej Duda does not fulfil the milestones needed by the Commission to send the funds.
She added: “Poland will have to reflect on the conditions, and if they do not have a sufficient response in the legally binding rules for the Polish judiciary, which will correspond with the milestones, we will not pay the money.”
Responding to Ms Jourova’s comments, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recognised his government has certain conditions to fulfil but added “some would be fulfilled in full measure, others partially”.
He continued: “Nonetheless, I hope for the best. I believe that the first payment from the RRF will be launched between 2022 and 2023, (and we will be able) to spend them for concrete projects.”
The row came after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) condemned Warsaw in October for failing to comply with a ruling declaring the new disciplinary chamber for judges “incompatible” with EU law.
The case had been brought by the European Commission.
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The Court ruled in favour of the Commission, stating that the reorganisation of the judiciary could be “used to exercise political control over judicial decisions or to put pressure on judges with a view to influencing their decisions.
Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister of the ruling PiS (Law and Justice) party, said last summer that his government was ready to dissolve the controversial institution, without actually doing so.
He accused the EU of “creeping in” on Polish affairs and lamented in an interview with the Financial Times that the EU was putting “a gun to his head”.
The Commission says the disciplinary system allows for political meddling in the courts and hence violates the laws in the 27-nation EU, as well as in Poland, that establish judicial independence.
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