After delaying its decision several times, on October 7th, 2021, the Polish Constitutional Court has finally ruled that, where the European Court of Justice tried to interfere with the Polish constitution, the latter was to be given legal precedence, paving thus the way to even more serious clashes between Warsaw and Brussels. This momentous decision is the newest instalment in the long and complex fight between the conservative Polish government and the leftist-liberal European institutions unconditionally backed by Berlin and Paris.
Polish divergence from Western EU members
Since 2015, Poland, after refusing to take in tens of thousands of Muslim migrants invited into the European Union by chancellor Merkel, is at odds with her Western neighbours. Next to the migration issue, the reinforcement of the laws regulating abortion as well as the signature of the allegedly homophobic “Family charter” by a series of Polish local communities are other major points of dissent. But the most problematic field of conflict is the so-called Polish Judicial Reform. During the last weeks of its mandate, the leftist-liberal government of Donald Tusk had nominated, well ahead of time, the successors to a series of constitutional judges going into retirement only under the next government term. But a series of scandals brought down Tusk, and in 2015, the people elected the present, conservative government which claimed, quite understandably, the right to proceed to these nominations for itself. This led to a momentary doubling of certain judicial functions, strong internal political disagreements between judges and judicial institutions, repeated endeavours by the government to fix the situation through a series of laws and the strong condemnation of Poland by the EU and Berlin.
Disturbed EU structures
From a purely formal point of view, the Judicial Reform merely endeavoured to increase the Polish Parliament’s right to have a say in the personal composition of the high Judiciary and tried to limit the political involvement of judges, as is the case in numerous other Western countries, above all in Germany. But the fundamental problem behind Warsaw’s dispute with the European institutions is the fact that these measures led to a replacement of a series of judges with well-known leftist-liberal sympathies by new judges appointed by the conservative majority, disturbing thus clientelist structures often going back to the times of communism and thus resented by the present Polish opposition under the former Polish PM and President of the European Council Donald Tusk who has considerable influence in Brussels and Berlin and has now returned to the Polish political scene.
But the quarrel is not only about personnel politics, it is also and perhaps essentially so about values: When joining the European Union, Poland – similarly to the UK – was convinced this project was grounded in a common respect for fundamental social institutions such as the classical family, personal propriety, national identity or Western civilisation. But the European elites have increasingly turned towards radical leftist ideas such as multiculturalism, gender mainstreaming, LGBTQ-ideology, globalism, debt-culture and Western guilt. Using the dynamic “openness” of the European legal system, known as the “Méthode Monnet”, the European Court of Justice has increasingly instrumentalised vague key words such as “diversity”, “tolerance”, “respect for minorities”, “justice” or “equity” in order to indirectly impose a new legal framework devoid of any democratic backing upon all member states alike, masking thus the inevitable ideological conflicts between the leftist-liberalism of Brussels, Berlin and Paris and the conservatism of Warsaw, Budapest or London as a legal battle between a pretended “rule of law” and an alleged “national populism”.
European patriots vs EU
After the European Union, on ground of the country’s alleged attacks on “European values”, surprisedly decided some weeks ago to withhold the covid-funds promised to Poland and thus to overtly strangle Warsaw, it has become clear to everyone that what is intended is nothing less than an open “regime change” in order to destroy one of the last bastions of conservatism in Europe. The Polish Constitutional Court’s refusal to accept the superiority of European over Polish constitutional law was as well brave as without any real alternative: giving in would have meant the total surrender of everything built up by the present Polish government and would have paved the way to a new Tusk-government and thus a never-ending series of politically motivated trials against all high representatives of the present majority. Will this decision be a further step towards the Polexit? Most Poles, the government included, are keen to share a peaceful and ever closer common future with their neighbours and feel as true European patriots. But things have come to an end where the EU might be considered the worst enemy of European patriotism.