POLAND has told meddling Brussels bigwigs to butt out of their business after the bloc stepped up pressure over Warsaw’s constitutional tribunal crisis.
The country’s former Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was reacting to the European Union’s decision to give Poland three months to boost the powers of its constitutional tribunal or face sanctions.
Brussels bureaucrats have threatened Warsaw with a suspension of voting rights and the freezing of its funds after accusing the country’s government of ignoring concerns that it has undermined democracy.
But a defiant Mr Kaczynski, the influential chairman of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, brushed off the warnings, saying: “This process is wholly outside the EU treaty.
“It is nothing but a happy endeavour for the amusement of the EU commission and its bureaucrats.”
The heavyweight Polish politician said Britain’s momentous decision to leave the beleaguered EU following June’s referendum was a sign of growing discontent among member states.
Warning that Brexit could lead to an uprising against the bloc, Mr Kaczynski told German newspaper, Bild: “Brexit showed us where the problems lie.
“If we don’t solve them we will not prevent but strengthen anti-EU movements in many EU countries.”
His comments yet again expose the growing division on the continent over how to deal with the fallout of the historic Brexit vote.
Poland has been dismayed by Britain’s to break away from the bloc as it feels it has lost its biggest ally in the fight against Brussels federalism.Since winning elections last October, PiS has imposed changes on the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, the constitutional court of the Republic of Poland, and the nation’s public broadcaster, which Brussels say is undermining the EU’s democratic standards.
Poland’s 1997 constitution gives the tribunal power to block laws approved by parliament and the president, but the PiS-controlled parliament approved laws in December that require a two-thirds majority, not a simple majority, to pass verdicts.
Following growing pressure from the EU, the Polish parliament voted to remove that requirement last week, but introduced a clause allowing judges to postpone a ruling by six months if four judges agreed.
Mr Kaczynski said Poland remained in discussions with the European Commission, but noted that other countries, such as The Netherlands, did not even have a constitutional court.
The 67-year-old said: ”Poland is a sovereign state. We want the same rights as all other EU countries. Not more, but also not less.”
Meanwhile, the country’s ministry described the EU’s actions as “premature”.
A statement said: With respect to the today’s decision of the European Commission we hereby say that the actions of the Commission prior to the coming into law of the law on the Constitutional Tribunal are decisively premature.
“They expose the Commission to a risk of losing the authority necessary to carry out functions described in (European) treaties.”
PiS, backed by about 40 per cent of Poles, has also sought to increase or solidify state control over economic sectors including banking, energy and chemicals. But Mr Kaczynski has insisted his country remains a committed EU member and he will not call a referendum.
He said: ”Ninety percent of the citizens would oppose an exit. We Poles are and remain convinced Europeans.”