In order to ease tensions in the long-running conflict, which has raised fears of Poland’s exit from the EU, Mateusz Morawiecki has pledged to dismantle a disciplinary chamber for judges that the European Court of Justice has ruled illegal to here the end of the year.
But he warned that if the European Commission “starts World War III” by withholding the money promised in Warsaw, it “will defend our rights with all the weapons at our disposal”.
The commission threatened Poland with sanctions after the country’s highest court this month ruled that key elements of EU law were incompatible with its constitution.
The ruling marked a major escalation in a legal battle over changes to the Polish justice system that Morawiecki’s ruling party Law and Justice says are needed to increase efficiency. Brussels says they threaten judicial independence and the fundamental legal ties that unite the EU.
The deadlock has already delayed approval of Poland’s € 36 billion Covid-19 economic stimulus plan from Brussels. Some member states and parts of the committee have also called for a new conditionality mechanism that could threaten tens of billions of euros in annual EU funds flowing to Warsaw.
Morawiecki said any move to cut “cohesion funds” would face heavy retaliation. He was speaking to the Financial Times after a week in which he held several meetings with committee chairperson Ursula von der Leyen and attended a two-day summit with his fellow EU leaders which included a debate on the crisis Polish.
“What will happen if the European Commission starts World War III? If they start World War III, we will defend our rights with all the weapons at our disposal, ”he said when asked if Poland could veto critical decisions on legislation like this. than the historic EU climate package.
« [But] if someone attacks us in a totally unfair way, we will defend ourselves in any way possible, ”he added. “We believe that this is an already discriminatory and diktat-type approach [from Brussels]. But if it is to be even worse, we will have to think about our strategy. “
Morawiecki said talks with EU leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and von der Leyen, in which he laid out Warsaw’s central argument that the EU was overstepping its legal powers , were “very satisfactory”.
But he said if the committee is to find a compromise, it must reverse its September decision to seek daily fines in Warsaw until it implements a number of ECJ rulings related to its reform. judicial.
“Fortunately, this is a political process. And political processes can be stopped by politicians, ”Morawiecki said. “It would be the wisest thing they could do. Because then we don’t speak with a gun to our heads. This very situation creates a relative lack of our appetite for new actions. ”
However, Morawiecki said legislation to dissolve the controversial disciplinary chamber is nearing completion.
“We are now in the process of finalizing the details of this legislation and gathering a majority for it,” he added. “The legislation is being prepared, and over the next few weeks, I think until the end of the year at the latest, we will present this legislation and continue the process. “
Morawiecki also said the commission violated EU law by not approving or rejecting the country’s Covid-19 stimulus package, and said Warsaw was ready to wait for its disbursement.
“We will have this money sooner or later,” he said. “The later we get it, the stronger the evidence that there is this discriminatory treatment and this diktat-type approach of the European Commission. “
Some member states have asked the committee to delay approval of the stimulus package, which Poland submitted in early May, due to the rule of law deadlock. The commission is expected to complete its assessment within two months of its submission.
“This money should have already been paid. This is a procedural violation by the commission, ”Morawiecki said. “They violate the rule of law.
“We are not going to capitulate, we are not going to give up our sovereignty because of this pressure,” he said, adding that Poland was already borrowing in private markets to finance its post-pandemic investment plans. . “We will survive until the moment we have the [EU] money. “
The commission declined to comment.
Morawiecki dismissed fears that the standoff could spark a public campaign that would see Poland – once the EU’s star child for eastward expansion – leave the bloc.
“Eighty-eight percent of Poles want to stay in the EU, half of them are our [party’s] voters, ”he said. “We are absolutely convinced that Poland must stay. . . There are no risks of Polexit. We will fiercely defend Poland as a member of the European Union.