ECJ 'cannot ensure' Poland will use EU funds lawfully says expert

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In a move that followed a similar decision taken by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal earlier this year, Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled last week that a decision by the ECJ could only be applied if the country’s constitution was amended.

The decision related to a case brought by Romania’s highest court which had condemned former ministers and parliamentarians for VAT fraud and corruption in the management of European funds.

The move called into question the primacy of European law over national law, just as in Poland’s case.

Reacting to the news, MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld warned the issue should be “top of the agenda” for European Council President Charles Michel.

She blasted: “If member states no longer accept the primacy of EU law and the authority of its highest court, the EU is effectively disintegrating.

“There is a full blown rule of law crisis, yet the European Council continues to duck the issue.

“It should be on top of the agenda.”

In October, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that parts of European Union treaties were incompatible with its constitution.

Poland argues that the European Union is overstepping its mandate and, in a Financial Times interview published in October, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party’s (PiS) Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, accused the European Commission of holding a “gun to our head”.

The Polish leader warned the EU Commission was at risk of starting a third world war by making demands on the rule of law.

He added: “What is going to happen if the European Commission will start the third world war?

“If they start the third world war, we are going to defend our rights with any weapons which are at our disposal.”

The Commission later decided to deny the country the advance payment for its recovery funds.

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European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said earlier this month: “The approval work is ongoing. It is unlikely that we will be able to finalise it this year.”

He spoke at the end of the meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels.

If the plans had been approved, Poland would have been entitled to a first instalment of 13 percent of the total of €23.9 billion in subsidies it is due to receive over the next five years.

Under pressure from the Parliament and the member states, the Commission has set conditions for the release of EU funds.

Brussels wants firm commitments to guarantee the independence of the justice system for Warsaw.

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