Poland warns it will turn guns on EU in rule of law dispute – POLITICO

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Poland’s de facto leader Jarosław Kaczyński promises that his government will take no further action to meet the European Commission’s rule of law demands to release 35 billion euros in grants and loans under the of the European pandemic relief programme.

“We showed a maximum of good will, but the concessions did not work”, Kaczyński told pro-government news portal Sieci. He insisted Poland had met its end of a deal with Brussels to roll back aspects of justice system reforms in return for EU money, but the deal was ‘broken’ by the other part. “It’s time to learn lessons,” he added.

“Since the European Commission is not fulfilling its obligations towards Poland in this area, we have no reason to fulfill our obligations towards the European Union”, Kaczyński said.

The Commission has demanded that Poland pass a series of “milestones” in reversing changes to the judicial system seen as placing judges under stricter political control in breach of EU democratic standards before agreeing to pay the stimulus fund.

Poland’s parliament passed legislation last month that took some steps to achieve these goals, but those steps did not go far enough, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Poland also faces a €1m-a-day fine from the EU Court of Justice for failing to comply with an EU court ruling to suspend the country’s controversial disciplinary mechanism. for the judges – amounting to more than 280 million euros.

But Kaczyński insisted that the nationalist government led by his Law and Justice (PiS) party would do nothing more. He accused the Commission of trying to undermine the rule of law in Poland and reminded Polish judges that their first loyalty was to Polish law.

A woman holds a copy of the Polish Constitution during a protest against the Judiciary Law recently signed by Polish President Andrezj Duda in the Main Square in 2020 in Krakow, Poland | Omar Marques/Getty Images

He sees the issue as part of a larger plot to overthrow Poland and accused the Commission of trying to “break up Poland and force her into full submission to Germany”.

“We are not adjusting to German-Russian plans to rule Europe,” he warned. “An independent, economically, socially and militarily strong Poland is an obstacle for them.”

Poland’s government needs EU funds to tackle soaring inflation and the growing threat of an economic downturn, but pulling out ahead of Brussels’ demands would anger the party’s electoral core in power ahead of parliamentary elections next year.

The wider party is squarely behind Kaczyński in the fight with Brussels.

“If the European Commission tries to push us against the wall, we will have no choice but to pull out all the guns in our arsenal and open fire,” party secretary general Krzysztof Sobolewski warned on Monday. in an interview granted to the Polish State. radio. He said Warsaw would adopt a “tooth for tooth” strategy by vetoing EU initiatives, creating a coalition to fire von der Leyen and dismissing the entire Commission, as well as taking legal action in justice against Brussels to get the money from the recovery fund.

“We are not ruling out any action,” he said.

The opposition takes advantage of belligerent comments from Kaczyński and other PiS leaders to warn Poles that such policies will lead to a “Polexit” of Poland leaving the EU; The Poles overwhelmingly support staying in the bloc.

“The more Kaczyński uses the EU as a scare tactic, the more he falls into ridicule. Nobody will take seriously a man who, instead of big funds, prefers to give the Poles poverty, anarchy, the destruction of judicial independence and, therefore, #Polexit”, said Grzegorz Schetyna, one of the leaders of the Civic Platform opposition party.

However, Sobolewski stressed: “We are not leaving the EU”, adding that his party wanted to reform the bloc to turn it into a “union of European nations”.

The EU has already disbursed over €100 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, but disbursements to Poland and Hungary have stalled due to rule of law concerns .

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