Polish court to rule which takes primacy: EU or Polish law

By Via AP news wire
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Poland’s constitutional court is to rule Thursday in a key case over whether Polish or European Union law has primacy in the EU member country.

The ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal is expected to define the future of Poland’s already troubled relationship with the 27-member bloc in the key area of law and justice.

The expected verdict comes after months of court proceedings in which representatives of the government, the president and the parliament argued that Poland's Constitution comes before EU law and that rulings by the Court of Justice of the EU are sometimes in conflict with Poland's legal order.

During proceedings Thursday, representatives of the office of the human rights commissioner argued that Poland agreed to respect the EU legal order when it joined the bloc in 2004, and that questioning that order would lower the standards of legal protection of citizens in Poland.

But a deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, insisted that a ruling giving primacy to Poland’s Constitution would not go against the EU membership treaties. He said that it would instead give them a new definition in a situation where, he said, top courts in many member countries have not followed the EU court’s rulings.

Poland’s government insists that the justice system and the judiciary are the sole purview of EU member nations and not the EU, and has ignored a number of the EU court’s rulings.

The court opened the case in July on a motion earlier this year from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki He asked for the review after the EU court ruled that the bloc's law takes precedence over Poland’s law. The verdict regarded the procedure of judicial appointments under Poland's current right-wing government.

The EU court’s decision came amid a larger dispute over deep changes the governing Law and Justice party initiated to the Polish court system; the EU views the changes as an erosion of democratic checks and balances.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution last month calling on Morawiecki to cancel the case, stressing the “fundamental nature of primacy of EU law as a cornerstone principle of EU law.”

Poland’s policies in the area of law and the judiciary have drawn out debates with the EU Commission the bloc’s executive arm, over the payment of billions of euros to the country from the EU pandemic recovery fund.

The Constitutional Tribunal itself is seen by the EU as illegitimate due to the political influence of Poland’s governing party on the appointment of some of its judges. Many of them are government loyalists — including the court’s president, Judge Julia Przylebska, who is heading the panel in the current case.

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