Poland: Court case on primacy of EU or Polish law adjourned

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s constitutional court announced another recess Wednesday in a key case over whether Polish or European Union law has primacy in the EU member country.

The ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal, when it eventually comes, is expected to define Poland’s future relationship with the 27-member bloc.

After a session of some two hours Wednesday, the court announced a recess till Sept. 30, to gain time to prepare detailed questions for the sides. The proceedings started in July but have been repeatedly postponed.

The court opened the case on a motion earlier this year from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. He asked for the review after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that EU law takes precedence over Poland’s Constitution.

The EU court’s decision came amid a larger dispute over deep changes the ruling Law and Justice party initiated to the Polish court system; the EU views the changes as an erosion of democratic checks and balances.

During the proceedings Wednesday, representatives of Poland’s human rights ombudsman argued that the case is unnecessary because EU regulations are in line with Poland’s Constitution, and Poland accepted the EU’s legal order when it became a member in 2004.

“The prime minister’s motion is aimed at obtaining a sort of safe-conduct permission to avoid applying EU rulings” when they are inconvenient for the government, said Miroslaw Wroblewski, of the ombudsman’s office.

Representatives of the president, the Foreign Ministry, parliament and the Prosecutor General’s Office all supported the prime minister’s doubts as to EU law’s supremacy.

The Constitutional Tribunal itself is seen by the EU as illegitimate due to the political influence of Poland’s conservative ruling party on the appointment of some of its judges. Many of them are government loyalists — including the court’s president, Judge Julia Przylebska, who is heading the panel in the current case.

Poland’s government insists that the justice system and the judiciary are the sole purview of EU member nations and not the EU.

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This story has been corrected to show the court’s president’s first name is Julia, not Lidia.

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