Von der Leyen urges Morawiecki not to divert attention from Poland's rule of law crisis
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen accused Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of seeking to divert a debate on Polish record on the rule of law with spurious arguments. She also urged Poland to restore independence of its justice system, dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber, and bring unlawfully fired judges back to work.
"You're arguments are not getting better. You're just escaping the debate," von der Leyen told EU lawmakers at the close of a debate of more than four hours on Tuesday. "For European democracy to function there must be respect for common rules and principles, common institutions and independent justice. Don't try to divert. That's the debate right now here about the rule of law and the primacy of European law. Don't try to run away and to escape that debate," she said.
EU executive chief also called upon Polish authorities to restore independence of its justice system, dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber, and bring unlawfully fired judges back to work.
Weber: a "de facto" Polexit
European lawmakers told Poland's prime minister he was undermining the foundations of the European Union and taking the country down an authoritarian path on Tuesday (October 19) during a debate on the rule of law dispute between Poland and the EU.
The debate was triggered by a ruling from Poland's Constitutional Tribunal on October 7 that parts of EU law are incompatible with the Polish constitution, undermining the legal pillar on which the union stands and raising fears that Poland could eventually leave the bloc.
Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right European People's Party in the European Parliament, thanked Poles who had gone out on the streets to demonstrate in the wake of the ruling.
He told Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki that although Poland's exit from the EU - 'Polexit' - was not a political goal, by rejecting EU legal rules the country was "de facto" leaving the bloc.
The leader of the Socialists and Democrats, Iratxe Garcia Perez, said Poland under Morawiecki was taking a path of "regression and authoritarianism".
"A sinister game"
But French MEP Nicolas Bay from the Rassemblement National said he had visited Poland on a parliamentary mission to investigate Poland's judicial reforms and said accusations that the reforms were an attack on the rule of law were "baseless".
Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) says it has no plans for a Polexit and - unlike Britain before its Brexit referendum in 2016 - popular support for membership of the EU remains high in Poland.
But Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt said the ruling targeted some of the same articles of EU treaties to which proponents of Brexit had objected.
Verhofstadt called the Constitutional Tribunal a "politicised" court and said Morawiecki and his government were "playing a sinister game".
German Green MEP Terry Reintke said she did not see much to differentiate the political views of the Polish government and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying both aimed to see "a weak and disunited European Union".
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP, Reuters