BRUSSELS, Belgium: A summit in Brussels for 27 EU Member States is overshadowed by a dispute with Poland over the primacy of EU law.
Poland may be subject to EU sanctions due to a ruling by its Supreme Court ruling that certain aspects of EU law are incompatible with the Polish Constitution.
In response, Poland accused the EU of “blackmail”, but opinion polls suggest that most Poles support EU membership.
“The rule of law is a key aspect of the European Union,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said: “If you want the benefits of being in a club, then you have to respect rules. You can not be a member of a club and say, ‘The rules don’t apply to me.’ “
The dispute has intensified tensions between liberal EU politicians, who are in the majority, and the nationalist governments of Poland and Hungary.
On Thursday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the European Commission of exceeding its legal mandate and said: “We will not act under pressure from blackmail.”
Hungarian Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban supports Poland, noting: “The fact is very clear, the precedence of EU law is not at all in the Treaty, so the EU has precedence where it has competences.”
The EU has taken legal action against both Hungary and Poland in matters of the rule of law, accusing them of defying EU values of legal independence, media freedom and the rights of minorities, in particular as regards migrants and the LGBT community.
The European Commission has delayed the approval of COVID-19 recycling funds for Poland worth $ 66 billion, and will not do so until the dispute is resolved.
“The independence of the Polish judiciary is the key issue we need to discuss. It is very difficult to see how a large new fund of money could be made available to Poland when this is not resolved,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Annex 17 to the Lisbon Treaty stipulates that EU law takes precedence over national law and the judgments of the European Court of Justice have established this principle.