Oct. 8 (UPI) — A controversial ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal on Friday has determined that Polish laws take precedence over laws of the European Union, at least on issues where they clash — a legal position that drew concern from the bloc.
The decision by the court focused on changes that some complained could lead to political intervention in legal matters. The EU and Poland already have an uneasy relationship over issues regarding press freedoms and gay rights issues.
The Polish judges, who are loyal to the ruling Law and Justice Party in Warsaw, said Polish laws must be followed when they clash with some EU rules. Poland is one of seven former communist states that are now part of the European Union.
Poland has been criticized by some EU members for politicizing the courts and holding on to outdated communist influences.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday expressed concern over the Polish ruling.
“Our utmost priority is to ensure that the rights of Polish citizens are protected and that Polish citizens enjoy the benefits granted by the membership of the European Union, just like all citizens of our union,” von der Leyen said.
“Moreover, EU citizens, as well as companies doing business in Poland, need the legal certainty that EU rules, including rulings of the European Court of Justice, are fully applied in Poland.
“Our treaties are very clear. All rulings by the European Court of Justice are binding on all member states’ authorities, including national courts.”
Von der Leyen stressed that when countries join the European Union, they are aware that the alliance’s laws supersede individual national laws.
“This is what all EU member states have signed up to,” she added. “We will use all the powers that we have under the treaties to ensure this.”