Poland Sued by EU After Top Court Defied Primacy of Bloc’s Law

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union is suing Poland after its top court challenged the primacy of the bloc’s law and failed to act impartially, in the latest escalation of the bloc’s already tense relations with the nation over its alleged defiance of the rule of law.

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The European Commission said Wednesday it’s taking Poland to the EU’s Court of Justice after it failed to address concerns since the case was opened in December 2021.

The move comes at a particularly sensitive moment for Poland. On Friday, President Andrzej Duda asked the same court to weigh in on whether the legislation that promised to unlock the country’s access to EU recovery funds and was agreed with the EU’s executive is constitutional. The decision sets back by months the government’s plan to start receiving the aid before the election in the fall.

In a judgment that sent shock-waves all the way to Brussels, Poland’s top court in 2021 ruled that some EU laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution — undermining a cornerstone of EU membership. Poland has been rejecting commission claims that its Constitutional Tribunal lacks independence, describing the EU’s case against them as interference in Poland’s legal affairs. It hasn’t also changed the head of the tribunal.

Despite the standoff over its court, Poland last week cleared further hurdles on the way to unlock more than €35 billion ($37.5 billion) of the EU’s post-pandemic aid, putting fresh financing within the ruling party’s reach just eight months before a general election. The parliament last week approved a legislation agreed with the EU that would reverse some of the contested changes in the judiciary. The financing has effectively been frozen since June due to the conflict over the rule of law.

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The commission on Wednesday said the Polish tribunal’s rulings were illegal by depriving people before Polish courts of the right to effective judicial protection that is enshrined in EU law.

--With assistance from Konrad Krasuski and Piotr Skolimowski.

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