The controversial Polish law and the blackmail from the European Union

The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has recalled that the Polish constitution will always be more important than any other European law, and accused the European Union and its institutions, which according to him suffer from a democratic deficit, of “blackmail”. 
Mateusz Morawiecki and von der Leyen, source:

Mateusz Morawiecki’s statements

During a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Polish prime minister insisted that “the highest law of the Republic of Poland is the constitution, it stands above any other” and criticized the European Union. The prime minister tried to defend the idea that the national law is above any foreign law and assured that Poland is not intimidated. 

Mateusz Morawiecki then launched an attack, criticizing certain practices of European Union institutions, which according to him have “double standards” depending on the member states they deal with. He also pointed out that “the division between the strongest and the weakest is getting worse,” something that is visible to citizens, who “are neither blind nor deaf, and will lose confidence” in the  European project. 

He complained that Poland is being “attacked in an unfair and partial way”, and stated that “the rules of the game should be the same for everyone”, but also considered that “never has the democratic deficit been so visible as in recent years”.

Fighting against, according to him, “patronizing lessons” from various EU actors, Mateusz Morawiecki  criticized in particular “the language of threats” to apply sanctions to Poland for violating European laws and values, assuring that Warsaw will not be intimidated by “blackmail, which has become a habitual method of certain member states.” 

“I reject the language of threats and coercion. I don’t agree with politicians blackmailing  and threatening Poland. I do not agree that blackmail should become a method to force countries to collaborate. This is not how democracies works,” he said. 

“More and more often, decisions are taken behind closed doors, through the activism of  European judges, and more and more decisions are taken without being clearly based on treaties, but rather on a legal creativity without any control. The time has come to say ‘no’ and ‘enough is enough’. That is why we say ‘no’ to  European centralism.”  

Mateusz Morawiecki

Nevertheless, Morawiecki assured that the scenario of a possible exit of Poland from the European bloc is a lie.  “European integration is our choice, this is our destiny. Europe is our place, we don’t want to go anywhere else,” he said. 

“Europe is Poland’s place and it is in the European Union that the country wants to remain.”

Mateusz Morawiecki

Von der Leyen’s response

European Commission President Von der Leyen assured that she will not let the EU’s values be challenged by Poland, pointing out that the Polish Constitutional Court questions the fundamentals of the European Union.

“We cannot and will not allow our common values to be put at risk”, she stressed, assuring  that the Commission will take decisions. 

The options available to Brussels to respond to Poland are the infringement procedures, where it legally challenges the Polish Constitutional Court ruling, the conditionality mechanism, other financial instruments and the Article 7 procedure of the EU Treaty. 

Article 7 “is the powerful instrument of the Treaty and we have to come back to it because the Polish Constitutional Court, which today cast doubt on the validity of our Treaty, is the  same court which, under Article 7, we consider not to be independent and legitimate,”  Ursula Von der Leyen said. 

“This is the first time that a court in a member state has found the EU Treaties to be  incompatible with the national constitution,” she said, adding that “the decision undermines the protection of judicial independence.” 

Von der Leyen also said that she will continue to prefer dialogue, believing that the situation can and should be resolved. 

France considered the Constitutional Court’s decision an “attack” against the founding principles of the EU . Poland is not isolated, counting at least on the support of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. 

Even German Chancellor, Angela Merkel has proposed more dialogue with Poland rather than a hardening of relations. “There are big problems, but I advise that they be solved through dialogue and by finding a compromise,” she explained. 

The European Union does not have the right to expel a member state. A “Polexit,” is only possible at the request of the Poles, just as Brexit was triggered by the UK. But that is not in Morawiecki’s plans, given that a large majority of the population  (80%) is in favor of EU membership. “It is our destiny, Europe is our place. We don’t want  to go anywhere else,” he argued in his speech. Von der Leyen also defended his country’s  place in the EU: “We want a strong Poland in a united Europe. We want Poland at the  heart of our debates in building a common future.” 


Statement: déclaration, affirmation

Patronizing: condescendant

Blackmail: chantage

Coercion: coercition

Stress (something): souligner, mettre l’accent sur

Treaties: traités

Undermine: discréditer

Hardening: durcissement

Expel: renvoyer/ exclure

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