Ruling in Warsaw: next stop Polexit?

The Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw has ruled that parts of EU law are not compatible with the Polish constitution. Specifically, the ruling focuses on provisions that the EU Commission uses to justify its right to a say in matters pertaining to the rule of law. The press discusses how Brussels should react to this affront and whether a Polexit is imminent.

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Financial Times (GB) /

More dangerous than Brexit

The EU has no appropriate recourse against this breach from within, the Financial Times fears:

“The Polish constitutional tribunal judgment is a direct attack on the EU's legal order, which is the cement holding the EU together. The UK withdrew from the EU; Poland is asserting its constitutional independence while staying inside. It is corroding the union's integrity from within. ... The EU regrettably has no viable mechanism for expelling a member in serious breach of its rules. The Commission will almost certainly take legal action, threatening large fines if Poland refuses to comply. ... Unfortunately, Poles will pay the price for government fanaticism.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

Turning off the money tap - despite possible blockade

The EU should freeze its payments to Poland, says Turun Sanomat:

“The EU has had difficulties in getting problem countries back on track. It can freeze funds for states that violate the rule of law enshrined in the basic treaties. Still, it has not yet made use of this option. ... In any case, the countries concerned can be expected to react harshly because they can block decisions that require the unanimity of the EU. ... A lot would have to happen before Poland and Hungary actually leave the EU because their citizens are in favour of membership and the financial support they receive is considerable.”

Polityka (PL) /

PiS hiding behind the judges' robes

Polityka accuses the Polish government of applying double standards vis-à-vis the judiciary:

“In their attempt to destroy the independence of the courts, the PiS politicians repeated the slogan that the judiciary has 'no democratic legitimacy' and is therefore suspect and doesn't have the right to make critical decisions. But when it comes to the crunch, or in other words implementing politically risky projects, such as the introduction of a de facto ban on abortion or an attack on the primacy of European law over national law, PiS politicians hide behind the robes of the supposedly independent judges of the Constitutional Tribunal.”

Polityka (PL) /

PiS has declared war on Brussels

The ruling will only further escalate the conflict, Polityka observes:

“The judgment and its reasoning sound almost like a denunciation of membership in the European Union on the grounds that its institutions act in a way that threatens Poland's sovereignty. It looks like the PiS government, which was not able to secure money from the reconstruction fund, wants to declare war on the EU. It seems to have decided that it has nothing left to lose. And it cares little whether the society that brought it to government does have something to lose.” (PL) /

No one wants to leave the bloc

The pro-PiS newssite wPolityce says Poland's exit from the EU is not even up for discussion:

“No one is proposing, initiating or even considering any kind of Polexit. The ruling is just a necessary reminder in this situation that the EU institutions have been endowed with specific competences and are obliged to act within the scope of these competences and in a strictly legal manner. Anything beyond that is up to the member states. How their justice system is organised, for example. We want to be and will be part of the European Union, in which we have the same rights as other nations and countries. That's what the rule of law is all about, not non-contractual judgments, media drumfire, attempts to stifle all discussion, and blocking projects unlawfully for political reasons.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Up to the EU to respond

For Die Welt's Warsaw correspondent Phillip Fritz the ruling is a turning point:

“It is true that the Polish government has been breaking EU law on a daily basis since 2020 by not implementing ECJ decisions on the Disciplinary Chamber at the Supreme Court. However, the fact that Poland is undermining EU law so fundamentally and openly is a new dimension and a declaration of war on the EU. Poland is now leaving the European legal community and, as it were, taking it down with it. Because Polish courts are European courts, the system is transnationally based on trust. ... But no one knows what will happen now. It is now up to the EU to find an answer to the Polish crisis.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Amend the constitution or leave

In its ruling the Polish court already explained potential ways out of the dilemma, writes Corriere della Sera:

“This calls into question the entire legal system on which the EU is based. The court also states that in the event of an 'unresolvable conflict' between EU law and the Polish Constitution, the following consequences are possible: amendment of the constitution, amendment of European law, or withdrawal from the European Union. Now the government in Warsaw must decide whether it wants Polexit or changes to the constitution.”