By Stefan J. Bos. Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
Poland has come under mounting pressure from Brussels for refusing to obey several EU treaties, including respecting the independence of the judiciary and media.
Warsaw says Poland’s sovereignty should be respected. A Polish top court ruled that it was against Poland’s constitution if EU laws have primacy over domestic legislation.
However, on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice clarified it disagreed with imposing the penalty after a weeklong war of words between Poland and the EU.
Poland demanded that Brussels stay out of its judicial affairs. At the same time, other EU nations insisted that Warsaw could not continue to get massive EU subsidies while disregarding the bloc’s democratic principles.
“You cannot pocket all the money but refuse the values,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday, warning Poland not to treat the EU like “a cash machine.”
The Court of Justice decided to take some of that money. It claimed the daily fine was “necessary to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union. And to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular, that of the rule of law.”
The EU’s executive European Commission had requested the penalty until the Polish government acts to improve the functioning of the Polish Supreme Court. It was also asked to suspend new laws deemed to undermine judicial independence.
Poland’s deputy justice minister, Michal Wojcik, hinted that Poland might not respect the European court’s decision once again. He said the ruling has “no legal basis” because the court allegedly acted outside its jurisdiction.
Hungary, a close ally of Poland, has also made clear it would not support an EU infringement procedure against the Polish government.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told reporters that that ideological pressure within the 27-nation bloc has become unprecedented.
He claimed that the European Commission had transformed itself from the guardian of treaties into an ideological center. Orbán stressed that Poland and Hungary were experiencing a “modernized form” of the “Brezhnev doctrine” in the European Union day by day.
He referred to the Soviet Union-era when Hungary, Poland, and other Eastern European nations were effectively ruled from Moscow through puppet regimes.
Under the Brezhnev doctrine, if a member state of the Soviet bloc deviated from the centrally determined ideology, other member states could intervene in its internal affairs, he recalled.
“We were sad to establish that ideological pressure within the European Union has become stronger than ever,” including towards Poland and Hungary, he said.
Orbán added that migration and advocacy of open society had been promoted to a degree unseen before.
Like Poland, Hungary has also come under EU pressure over its perceived violations of rule-of-law.
“Of course, such a procedure is a lot less brutal than an intervention by Soviet tanks, but it is still an intervention. And this is what both Poland and Hungary are experiencing day by day,” Orbán stressed.
He spoke after meeting Marine Le Pen, president of the far-right French National Front.
She also compared the EU to the Communist bloc when thousands of Hungarians were killed
during Hungary’s 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination.
Over the past few years, the European Parliament made repeated attempts “to crucify” Hungary, said Orbán, who claims to defend Christian family values.
He thanked Le Pen and her party for “standing up” for Hungary on every occasion when it was exposed to “such unfair attacks.”
Orbán has come under opposition fire over his perceived flirting with the far-right.
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