EU’s fissures widen as Poland goes to war over sovereignty

Polexit? No, the Polish government wants freedom but can’t afford it

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2021

But is there one EU rule for the Germans, and another for the Poles?

Yesterday in Warsaw and Brussels, two legal machines went head to head. This is a case which has direct relevance for the UK Government’s attempts to regain sovereignty of Northern Ireland, taken de facto by the EU in the Brexit settlement.

In Warsaw the Polish Constitutional Court, the Trybunał Konstytucyjny, declared that Polish law has primacy over EU law and the provisions of the EU Treaties.

The EU immediately reaffirmed its legal control over member countries’ laws and constitutions

The reaction from Brussels was swift:-

“EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions. All rulings by the European Court of Justice are binding on all Member States' authorities, including national courts.”

- EU Commission statement, 07 Oct 2021

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal had already ruled in July that:

“The Court of Justice of the European Union ultra vires [acting unlawfully] imposes obligations on the Republic of Poland as an EU Member State, by prescribing interim measures pertaining to the organisational structure and functioning of Polish courts...”

Trybunał Konstytucyjny, 14 July 2021

It described the EU’s demands regarding Polish courts and the appointment of judges as being “inconsistent” with Poland’s Constitution, citing Articles 2, 7, 8(1) and 4(1) of that document.

Yesterday’s judgment by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal went further, asserting the primacy of the articles of Poland’s Constitution over the EU’s laws and Treaties in a more general sense. They say “the EU has reached a new stage” in which:-

a) the bodies of the European Union operate outside the limits of powers conferred by the Republic of Poland in treaties,
b) the Constitution is not the highest law of the Republic of Poland, having priority of validity and application,
c) The Republic of Poland cannot function as a sovereign and democratic state, which is inconsistent with Art. 2, art. 8 and art. 90 sec. 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.

Germany’s Constitutional Court did the same thing last year

As Facts4EU.Org reported last year, on 05 May 2020 the Bundesverfassungsgericht (German Constitutional Court) stated the same thing:

“even under the Lisbon Treaty, the Member States remain the ‘Masters of the Treaties’ and the EU has not evolved into a federal state.”

Bundesverfassungsgericht, 05 May 2020

This ruling concerned an EU banking tool called the PSPP which the German Constitutional Court said was “transferring large quantities of high-risk government bonds to the balance sheets of the Eurosystem” and it declared these actions ultra vires – outside its legal competences. The EU’s PSPP totalled €2.6 TRILLION as of November 2019 and it has increased still further since then.

It is important to note that the German Constitutional Court never reversed its judgment. Almost a year later, on 29 April 2021, it merely declared that the “Federal Government and the Bundestag substantially addressed and appraised the monetary policy decisions taken by the ECB Governing Council following the judgment of 5 May 2020” and that the Government was satisfied with the reassurances from the EU’s ‘European Central Bank’.

The basic principle – that the German Constitution overrode EU law and EU Treaties – remains the same today as it was in May 2020. To date, the EU has taken no further action against Germany and it has no plans to do so.

‘Polexit’? Not possible for two reasons

The fissures which have been widening year on year between the EU Commission and countries such as Poland, Hungary, and others, have led some commentators to speculate on which of these countries might be the next to leave the European Union.

Facts4EU.Org has consistently stated that such speculation is very far wide of the mark, for three main reasons:-

1. The countries involved are major beneficiaries of ‘EU’ funding

  • In Poland’s case it is the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s ‘Cohesion Fund’ by a long way
  • The UK was a big part of funding this largesse, being the 2nd largest net contributor to the EU for decades
  • In addition Poland stands to receive over £50bn in further EU grants and loans as part of the COVID-19 plan

2. The Poles are 80% in favour of EU membership – why wouldn’t they be?

It is almost impossible to go anywhere in Poland without becoming aware of a rash of EU signs saying that such and such a train line, motorway, or school or hospital project has been ‘funded by the EU’.

With so much new infrastructure improving people’s daily lives, being apparently as a result of EU membership, then it is hardly surprising that the majority of the population would like to stay in the EU whilst the billions keep pouring in.

Photo right: A new Underground for Łódź in Poland, 'funded by the EU'

3. New EU rules linking money to obedience

Since 01 Jan 2021, the EU has had a new law which makes the receipt of EU funding – and even the right to vote at EU meetings – conditional on behaving according to the Commission’s rules. Specifically this has been dressed as following the Commission’s ‘Rule of Law’.

All of this has yet to be tested to the full, as the EU normally moves very slowly, but it seems that a showdown may soon be coming.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary - Poland's receipts vs. UK's payments in 2020

How the UK's EU payments covered Poland's EU subsidy last year

  • Poland’s net 2020 subsidy from the EU budget : €12.42 billion (£10.7bn GBP)
  • UK’s net 2020 contribution to the EU budget : €12.88 billion (£11.1bn GBP)

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

Statistical note: These figures come from the EU Commission’s financial spreadsheets issued in June this year, relating to 2020. The net figures include budget contributions and receipts, as well as the customs duties which the EU Commission takes for goods imported from outside the EU. The figures do NOT include the sums which the UK has been paying into the EU’s ‘off-the-books’ funds.


Whose money?

If a good proportion of Poland’s spanking new infrastructure were badged “Funded by the UK, now Brexit Britain” instead of “Funded by the EU”, Poles might perhaps feel a little differently towards Brussels.

As it is, the Polish government continues to face a dilemma. The Polish people evidently want to see the billions continuing to roll in and this may come to a grinding halt if the Polish government keeps to its current path. Faced with a popular backlash it seems likely that ‘realpolitik’ will prevail.

Sovereignty “pooled” is sovereignty surrendered

During the Brexit debates in the United Kingdom, the pro-Leave side talked a lot about regaining sovereignty. Insofar as the Remain side ever wanted to discuss this, (as opposed to their favourite subject of the supposed economic terrors facing a Brexit Britain), they tried to talk of ‘pooled sovereignty’.

The bizarre concept was that somehow sovereignty could be enhanced by being ‘pooled’. If sovereignty is subsumed into a structure not wholly within one’s control, then that is ‘sovereignty surrendered’, not ‘pooled’. This year the people of Northern Ireland have had to endure the reality of what happens when sovereignty is passed to a foreign power.

The governments in places like Warsaw and Budapest may not like the imposition of EU primacy over their laws and constitutions, but it seems likely that they will have to kowtow in order to keep the money rolling in.

It could be worse. In Northern Ireland neither the people nor the Northern Ireland Assembly even have a say or vote on any laws passed in Brussels, let alone anything else.

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[ Sources: Trybunał Konstytucyjny | EU Commission | Bundesverfassungsgericht ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Fri 08 Oct 2021

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