The Polish Constitutional Tribunal, the highest court of Warsaw, declared that Polish law is above EU law on Thursday, 7 October.
The Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling rejects one of the main principles in EU law: when there is a clash between national and EU law, EU law takes precedence and is therefore valid. Poland accepted that principle when it joined the EU in 2004. However, yesterday’s ruling asserts the contrary, with the Polish court suggesting that national law prevails.
A troublesome relationship
While the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling comes as a surprise for the EU, the troublesome relationship between the two is relatively well-known. The EU has often rebuked Warsaw because it does not comply with EU law in several areas, such as the rule of law, press freedom and protection of LGBTQ+ rights.
The Polish statement comes as a response to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) contestation in July regarding the judicial reform brought about by the current ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party. Remarkably, the CJEU contested the appointment of some Constitutional Tribunal’s judges, who are said to be close and loyal to the PiS party and the current Poland Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki. These very judges are now questioning the validity of EU law, which might not be that surprising altogether.
Thursday’s ruling stiffens the already difficult relationship between the EU and the Eastern European country. Some EU experts coined the word ‘Polexit’, in the wake of Brexit and meaning the withdrawal of Poland from the EU. However, this does not seem so likely yet as the majority of the Polish population is willing to remain in the bloc.