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CJEU European Commission Genowefa Grabowska Polish judiciary reforms News Poland

Poland has a right and responsibility to care for its own interests – commentary

The conflict between the European Commission and Poland over the judiciary has stopped being a legal conflict and became a political one instead, argues former MEP and professor of international law Genowefa Grabowska

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: dorzeczy.pl

It is my belief that we should approach the issue of the European Commission’s (EC) ultimatum concerning alleged “LGBT free zones” in Poland rationally – not as the European Commission has, in which some commissioners approach the matter emotionally. We should articulate what lies at the foundation of this conflict.

Poland has a right and responsibility to care for its interests, much like other countries, based on its constitution – the highest law in Poland.

Meanwhile, in the most recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling on the Polish judiciary and the previous opinions of its general spokespeople and EC documents, there were comments and even demands for Poland to introduce the superiority of EU law over the Polish constitution. Brussels expects that in the case of a legal collision, Polish institutions will ignore their own constitution and bow to EU law instead.

Poland has never disputed the priority of EU law over Polish bills when it comes to issues which are EU competencies written into treaties. But Poland also has never accepted the superiority of that law over its constitution.

Brussels expects that in the case of a legal collision, Polish institutions will ignore their own constitution and bow to EU law instead.

Judiciary competencies, according to EU treaties, remain with member states and were never given over to the EU. This is why this conflict should not even be considered by the CJEU.

I have no doubts that in any conflict, one should be directed by the law and treaties – after all, that is what they are there for. If the EC and the CJEU were acting in accordance with the treaties, then it would have been fairly easy to solve this conflict. Unfortunately, this conflict has long ceased to be a legal one and, all too typically, has become a political one. To solve this conflict, political tools will be necessary.

Moreover, the ultimatum (because that is how the EC’s letter to Poland should be called) was undiplomatic and too harsh given the situation, because it contained threats towards Poland. This is not how we converse within the EU. This is not in the spirit of loyal cooperation which member states and EU institutions agreed to. This also does not bode well for solving the conflict over the judiciary.

On one hand, we have the CJEU and EC who demand competencies not given to them by treaties, and on the other we have states which say, “Please stop doing this – this does not belong to you, and you do not have the necessary permissions.”

Poland is not alone in this conflict, but the EC is treating Poland differently than other member states that are in similar situations. This is not fair, and the situation should not be like this. After all, one of the main EU values is equality and the rule of equal treatment of all member states.