Polish Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, called a press conference in response to the European Commission suing Poland in the Court of Justice of the European Union over supposed breaches of the “rule of law”. Specifically, the European Commission claims that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s 2021 ruling, according to which certain EU laws are in violation of Poland’s Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land and as such takes precedence over EU legislation that violates it.
Minister Ziobro called the suit “another threat and another blackmail” aimed at depriving Poland of its sovereignty, and said that under no circumstances can Poland agree to such treatment.
As the Polish Justice Minister stated, such actions are part of a purposeful “plan to disestablish the EU member states in their existing form”, in order to instead create a “centralized state with a formal capital in Brussels”. As Minister Ziobro said, the actual decision-making center in such a case would de facto be in Berlin.
“The purpose is to establish that legislation passed in Poland, [produced] by Polish democracy, are in fact of no consequence,” said Ziobro, forcefully stating that “We do not and we will not consent to this”.
He warned that such actions by the Eurocrats would result in a serious conflict, expressing his conviction that “the defiance of Polish society will grow as it realizes the purpose the EC has set for itself.”
According to the European Commission, only the “Primacy of EU law ensures the equal application of EU law across the Union.” That national law has primacy over EU law, which is the position of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, supposedly threatens the objective the Commission has tasked itself with, which is to “ensure that the rights of Polish citizens are protected and that they can enjoy the benefits of the EU in the same way as all EU citizens.”
As for the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling, the EC dismisses it, claiming that the body “no longer meets the requirements of an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law”. Such a claim is propped up by the supposed “irregularities in the appointment procedures of three judges in December 2015 and in the selection of its President in December 2016.”
As a matter of explanation, in 2015 the outgoing Polish parliament elected five judges to replace those whose terms were about to end. Two of the judges’ terms, however, were ending after the newly elected parliament would go into session and in normal circumstances, it would elect the two replacements. As all five judges were elected simultaneously, the new parliament decided that the election of all five judges was invalid.
While this caused controversy, the EC’s suit indirectly shows that it does recognize that at least two of the judges were elected improperly by the previous parliament. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal is composed of 15 judges and the Tribunal is currently composed entirely of judges elected after the 2015 parliamentary elections (the two judges elected in 2015 having died while in office) and judges elected post-2015 would make up a majority of the body in any other case.
Short and long game
Minister Ziobro believes that the short-term goal of the European Commission that motivated the suit is to delegitimize the current democratically elected Polish authorities in the hopes of leading to the election of a government more compliant with the expectations of Brussels and Berlin.
“And the long-term plan is […] to create a single European state,” Ziobro said.
Minister Ziobro’s assessment was seconded by his deputy, Sebastian Kaleta, who said that this “is an attempt at a systemic partition of Poland [cf.: 18th-century partitions of Poland], [an attempt] to downgrade Poland to a state in which the democratic system or the hierarchy of the sources of law do not count, the constitution does not count, what counts is orders from Brussels.”
EC’s goal, according to Kaleta is to “recognize actions made by Poland as systemically illegal.” He argues, however, that “it is not the EU institutions that decide their competences, but the member states which were ceding these competences to the EU. For many years, the EU has usurped the right to decide the shape of the Polish judiciary. But there is no provision of the [European] Union treaties that would cede such competence to the EU.”