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EU acts after Polish courtroom laws its rules best EU charter

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The European Union has launched legal proceedings against Poland, raising questions about the 27-nation bloc’s legal order.

In October, Poland’s constitutional court ruled that its national laws have supremacy over EU laws in areas where they conflict, contradicting the bloc’s regulations requiring member countries to bring their laws in line with the union’s rules, which are overseen by the European Court of Justice.

In launching the legal action, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, said it considers two constitutional tribunal decisions made this year by Poland, which joined the union in 2004, as “expressly challenging the primacy of EU law.”

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, who announced the legal action, said the rulings “are in breach of the general principles of autonomy, primacy, effectiveness and uniform application of Union law and the binding effect of rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU.”

He added that the commission, which proposes EU laws and supervises the way they are applied, considers that the Polish court “no longer meets the requirements of an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, as required by the (EU) treaty.”

The legal action is the latest in a list of disputes between Brussels and Warsaw’s right-wing government in Warsaw over the state of the country’s justice system, rule of law standards and media freedoms.

Earlier this year, the ECJ ordered Poland to pay $1.2 million per day to prevent “serious and irreparable harm” to EU legal order and values.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has rejected the commission’s objections and Brussels’ questioning of the Polish constitutional court’s independence.

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The court “not only fulfils all independence criteria, but it is a Constitutional Tribunal that stands guard over the constitution and ensures that it remains the highest law of the Republic of Poland,” he said, as reported by the Polish news agency PAP.

However, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that the EU’s action would help transform it into a “federal state,” which Poland’s ruling party strongly opposes.

“The logic of today’s position of the European Commission is obvious. It is about incapacitating the Polish state and Polish democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, John Morijn, professor of law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, welcomed the commission’s action, telling the Associated Press it confirms that Poland’s constitutional court threatens basic EU principles.