EU declares war rhetoric unacceptable after Polish PM’s comment

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WARSAW (AP) – The EU executive told Poland on Monday that there was “no room for rhetoric referring to war” among EU partners, after the Polish Prime Minister said that for Brussels, withholding money on rule of law issues would be like starting “World War III”.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the EU of demanding Warsaw with a “gun pointed at the temple” and urged Brussels to drop its threat of sanctions against Poland.

The comments follow years of disputes over changes the Polish government has made to the country’s courts. The EU believes the changes are eroding democratic checks and balances, and the European Commission is withholding billions of euros from Poland as part of a pandemic stimulus package.

When asked if Poland could use its veto power to block retaliatory legislation, for example on climate issues, Morawiecki said: “If they start World War III, we will stand up for our rights together. the weapons that are at our disposal.

Asked about the comment during a briefing, European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer said that the EU “is a project that has been very successful in helping to establish lasting peace between its countries. Member States”. Mamer added that “there is no room for rhetoric referring to war”.

Morawiecki has faced less optimistic criticism from his Polish political opponents, many of whom are deeply concerned about Poland’s growing isolation within the EU.

“I have the impression that Mr Morawiecki has recently had problems with English or has lost his mind,” tweeted Marek Belka, a former left-wing Polish prime minister now a member of the European Parliament.

Donald Tusk, the leader of the main opposition party in Poland, responded to the “war” comment by saying: “In politics, stupidity is the cause of the most serious misfortunes.

Government spokesman Piotr Müller told Polish media that the Prime Minister’s comment amounted to hyperbole and should not be taken at face value.

Poland’s ruling nationalist party Law and Justice has been in conflict with Brussels since winning power in 2015 over a number of issues, including migration and LGBT rights. The oldest conflict, however, has been over attempts by the Polish government to gain political control over the judiciary.

The case came to a head earlier this month when the constitutional court ruled that some key parts of EU law were incompatible with the country’s constitution. The ruling by a tribunal made up of ruling party loyalists came after Morawiecki asked it to rule on the rule of EU or national law.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week that it was the first time that a national court has ruled “that EU treaties are incompatible with the national constitution”.

“This decision calls into question the foundations of the European Union,” said von der Leyen. “It is a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order.

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Sam Petrequin contributed from Brussels

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