Poland: Constitutional Tribunal is illegitimate, unfit to interpret constitution

(Source: European Parliament)

  • Polish Constitutional Tribunal is “a tool for legalising the illegal activities of the authorities”
  • No EU money for governments who flagrantly, purposefully and systematically undermine EU values
  • EU must protect the people of Poland, who remain overwhelmingly pro-European

Parliament condemns an attempt to undermine the primacy of EU law and calls on the Council and Commission to urgently protect the people of Poland and the Union.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday with 502 votes for, 153 against, and 16 abstentions, MEPs emphasised that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal lacks legal validity and independence, and is unqualified to interpret the country’s constitution. Following Tuesday’s heated plenary debate with the Polish prime minister and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, MEPs “deeply deplore” the decision of 7 October 2021 “as an attack on the European community of values and laws as a whole”, and say that the Tribunal has been transformed “into a tool for legalising the illegal activities of the authorities”.

Parliament commends the tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in Poland, who have taken to the streets to protest the Tribunal’s decision, and their desire for a strong democratic Poland at the heart of the European project. MEPs reiterate their support for Polish judges who still apply the primacy of EU law and refer cases to the European Court of Justice despite the risk to their careers.

MEPs stress that, according to Poland’s constitution, the EU Treaties, are directly applicable in its legal order, and have precedence in the event of a conflict with domestic law. They accuse the Polish prime minister of “further misusing the judiciary as a tool to achieve his political agenda” and say that Poland remains voluntarily bound by the Treaties and the case law of the EU Court.

Action to restore the rule of law, without harming citizens

Parliament demands no EU taxpayers’ money be given to governments that “flagrantly, purposefully and systematically” undermine European values, calling on the Commission and the Council to act, including by:

  • launching infringement procedures and requesting interim measures by the EU Court of Justice;
  • triggering the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation;
  • refraining from approving the Polish recovery and resilience plan;
  • declaring there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law by Poland in accordance with Article 7(1) of the Treaty;
  • interrupting or suspending payments, given the risk of serious deficiencies in control systems; and
  • discussing the crisis at the upcoming summit on 21-22 October, and issuing a joint declaration in the strongest possible terms by the EU heads of state and government.

MEPs stress that these actions are not intended to punish the people of Poland, but to restore the rule of law in the light of its continued deterioration, and call on the Commission to find mechanisms that would allow for funding to reach its direct beneficiaries.

Background

The resolution highlights that, according to a number of polls conducted in Poland in September and October 2021, only 5% of respondents said they would like Poland to leave the EU. As many as 90% positively assessed Poland’s membership of the EU, and 95% thought that EU support had a positive impact on the development of their city or region, higher than the EU average.

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