EU picks legal fight with Poland over independence of court
Poland has been handed a two-month ultimatum to address the lack of independence of its top court as European Union patience with the nation’s alleged defiance of the bloc’s rule of law edges toward snapping point.
The European Commission on Wednesday said it “has serious doubts” on the “impartiality” of the constitutional court “and considers that it no longer meets the requirements of a tribunal previously established by law.”
“We’ve tried to engage in a dialog, but the situation is not improving,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Twitter. “Fundamentals of the EU legal order, notably the primacy of EU law, must be respected.”
The Polish top court in October ruled that some EU laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution, undermining a cornerstone of EU membership.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday questioned the European Commission’s assertion that the top court was no longer independent, adding that it’s a question of where the bloc’s legal competences end.
The move suggests that the “trend of creeping bureaucratic centralism from Brussels is spreading and has to be stopped at some point,” he told reporters in Ruda Slaska, southern Poland.
It comes as Hungary said it will do “nothing” to change its border policing regime, encouraged by a recent constitutional court ruling to ignore decisions on the matter made at a European Union level, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared on Tuesday.
The domestic court’s statement showed “it doesn’t matter what the European court ruled, it does not matter, Hungary will still have to defend its borders,” Orbán told reporters in Budapest.
Separately, Orban said his ruling Fidesz party will nominate Family Affairs Minister Katalin Novak to become Hungary’s next president when Janos Ader’s term expires next year in the largely ceremonial role.
The EU has for years been battling against Poland and Hungary over numerous issues from the rule of law to climate policy that have, so far, led to little by way of concrete punishment. Last month, the commission took a first informal step toward triggering the so-called conditionality mechanism, which is being challenged by Hungary and Poland at the bloc’s top court. It could ultimately deny the duo billions of euros.
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