Brussels hit by serious Polexit threat as top court rules EU law unconstitutional

EU: Expert on fears of Poland being 'marginalised'

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Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal said on Wednesday that interim measures imposed on the Polish judicial system by the European Court of Justice are against the Polish constitution, accelerating the collision course between Warsaw and Brussels.

For the second time this week, the tribunal was addressing cases that call into question the primacy of European Union law.

Some observers say this could jeopardise Poland’s continued membership of the 27-nation bloc.

Constitutional Tribunal judge Bartlomiej Sochanski said: “With the best will to interpret the constitution, it is impossible to find in it the powers of the (EU) Court of Justice to suspend Polish laws concerning the system of Polish courts.”

Wednesday’s ruling in Warsaw came as a result of proceedings initiated by Brussels against Poland, as part of which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) told Warsaw last year to suspend a panel it had created to discipline judges.

The panel – the Polish Supreme Court’s disciplinary chamber – asked the tribunal whether such a suspension was constitutional.

Shortly before the ruling on Wednesday, the deputy head of the CJEU again told Poland to immediately halt all activities of the chamber – comments echoed by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

The CJEU is due to issue another ruling on the disciplinary chamber on Thursday.

Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party says the EU is interfering in its right to make its own laws by challenging its judicial reforms, which it says are necessary to make courts function more effectively and remove a residue of communist influence.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told a news conference: “Fortunately the constitution and normality prevail over an attempt … to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state, in this case Poland.”

Opposition parties and human rights groups say the reforms aim to increase political control over the courts, and that questioning the primacy of EU law could result in Poland’s eventual exit from the bloc.

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Human Rights Ombudsman Adam Bodnar, a vocal government critic, said: “We are in the process of a legal ‘Polexit’ which is happening step by step, and we will see where it will lead us.”

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt also voiced his concerns over the ruling.

He tweeted: “Against the wishes of the vast majority of Polish people who want a European Union future, the populist governing PiS party is determined to take Poland out of the EU.

“Will anyone act to stop them before it is too late?”

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in May that a Polish company had been denied its right to a proper hearing in the Constitutional Tribunal due to the illegal appointment of a judge.

The upcoming row with Poland will be alongside the Commission’s ongoing battle with Viktor Orban’s Hungary.

Both countries have long argued Brussels is attempting to punish them for having elected right-of-centre governments.

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