Hungary’s Orban leaps to Poland’s defence over defiance of EU law

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban yesterday signed a government resolution welcoming a Polish constitutional court ruling that challenges the primacy of European Union law, and accusing EU institutions of over-extending their powers.

n the resolution, Hungary’s government calls on EU institutions to respect the sovereignty of the bloc’s 27 member countries, said Mr Orban’s spokesman Bertalan Havasi.

Hungary’s position followed a very different joint statement from the German and French foreign ministers on Friday night, saying Poland has both a moral and legal obligation to respect the common rules of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

Heiko Maas of Germany and Jean-Yves Le Drian of France published their statement in reaction to a Polish constitutional court ruling last week that challenged the supremacy of EU laws.

“Membership of the EU goes with full and unrestricted allegiance to common values and rules,” Mr Maas and Mr Le Drian said.

“Respect for and compliance with these must be fulfilled by every member state,” they added. “Of course, that also goes for Poland, which has a very central place within the EU.

“This does not just mean a moral obligation. It also means a legal obligation,” the ministers declared, as they reacted to the ruling from Poland’s constitutional tribunal.

In a legal decision requested by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki,  the tribunal held the Polish Constitution has primacy over EU laws in some cases.

Mr Morawiecki asked for the review after the European Court of Justice ruled in March that Poland’s new regulations for appointing Supreme Court justices could violate EU law and ordered the right-wing government to suspend them.

The Hungarian resolution states the “poor practices” of European institutions, which disregard the principle of delegation of powers, triggered the Polish court’s consideration of the legal primacy issue.

“The primacy of EU law should only apply in areas where the EU has competence, and the framework for this is laid down in the EU’s founding treaties,” the Hungarian document claims.

It also states European Union institutions are obliged to respect the national identities of member states.

National law-enforcement bodies — in particular constitutional courts and tribunals  have the right to examine the scope and limits of EU competences, it insists.

Some European leaders fear the ruling could bring legal chaos to the bloc, while many Poles fear their government is taking a step on the path toward their country leaving the union.

Poland’s main opposition leader and former president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, called on Poles to defend their EU membership in protests planned for tonight in the capital Warsaw and other Polish cities.

Critics have repeatedly pointed out that Poland’s constitutional tribunal is a politicised body, with several judges who were appointed illegally.

They argue it therefore lacks the legal authority to make a ruling that could be of enormous consequence to Poland’s future in the EU and its place alongside its allies in the West.

Jaroslaw Kurski, first deputy editor of the liberal daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, delivered a message for the Polish government as he called on the people to take to the streets and protest later today.

“You will not push us out of the European Union,” he declared. “You will not deprive our children of their dreams and their hopes for the future.

“If you want to head East, then by all means proceed  but do not drag us with you.”

Meanwhile, far-right activist groups called “all patriots who care about the sovereignty of our state” to join a counter-protest in Warsaw.

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