Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling party, has firmly asserted his belief the European Union undermines national sovereignty in the latest escalation of a bitter feud over the superiority of EU law.
The EU’s key institutions have authority over member states, but the waters are murky. The German constitution has written into it a limit on national debt that has clashed with the EU’s quantitative easing programmes, conveniently ruled to be legal by the European Court of Justice. But Germany’s constitutional court ruled last year that the controversial bond-buying scheme was illegal and had the authority to overrule the ECJ because quantitative easing went beyond the scope of the EU treaties.
Whether national laws are superior to the ones churned out by the EU is, therefore, a valid question, particularly when they stray away from the bloc’s core purpose of regulating (and supposedly building) markets, as is the case with the Poles who are under attack from Brussels for trying to reform their judicial system.
But to question the supremacy of EU law is to question the project’s entire purpose. This explains why the bloc has come down like a tonne of bricks against the Polish government.
The two sides have been in a constant battle after Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party (PiS) passed reforms to root out and remove Communist-era judges who remain on the bench.
EU Lawyers in Luxembourg quickly passed interim measures ordering the Polish government to reverse the reforms
In July, the Polish courts struck back. Senior judge Stanisław Piotrowicz insisted that the EU diktat was not compatible with the Polish constitution.
Kaczynski has reasserted his government’s defiance of EU meddling. “This is an unbelievable demand that undermines the foundations of our sovereignty, our constitutional order, the right of the Republic of Poland to success,” wrote the deputy prime minister in a letter.
The leader of Poland’s opposition happens to be Donald Tusk, a former President of the European Council. Tusk has whinged that the PiS’s reforms are “propaganda” as he struggles to gain popular suppport.
In his letter, Kaczynski accused Tusk of acting as an agent of Brussels, describing the EU’s manoeuvres as part of the “opposition’s fight to overthrow the democratically elected government” and a “tool to impose a new, revolutionary order in Europe”.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the PiS said that the country would “have to search for drastic solutions” to the ongoing feud after Poland was hit with daily fines by the European Commission, amid swirling speculation the country is headed for the exit door.