Poland could follow Britain out of EU in 'Polexit' over bitter legal row with creaking Brussels bloc

POLAND could follow Britain out of the EU in their very own "Polexit" amid a bitter legal row.

Warsaw and Brussels are currently locking horns following years of tensions between the Eastern European nation and the bureaucratic bloc.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Law and Justice party (PiS) are challenging EU legal principles they argue undermine Poland's sovereignty.

And this is fuelling concerns within Brussels that Warsaw could follow Britain out the door and bid farewell to the 27-member union.

Mr Morawiecki has previously called the bloc a dictatorship – but has insisted publically he hopes to stay in the EU while support for the union remains high in Poland.

However, France has warned Warsaw that it risks a "de-facto exit" if they continues to defy the EU.

Emmanuel Macron's government was also backed by Germany as they fired a warning shot towards Poland.

Foreign ministers from the two nations warned Warsaw that EU membership relies upon "complete and unconditional adherence to common values and rules".

And the European Commission has warned it will bring all its powers to bare against them – which may stoke anti-EU sentiment in Poland.

Poland has infuriated Brussels after its courts decided that EU decisions at the European Court of Justice could not override Polish law.

It essentially means that Warsaw has decided that Poland's national laws take precedent on EU principles.

The country's constitutional tribunal accused the EU of "acting beyond the scope of their competencies”.

Sebastian Kaleta, a Polish justice minister, said that the verdict was a “signal” to the EU that “attempts to interfere in Polish judiciary without a basis in treaties” were “ineffective”.

No one can pick or choose which bits of the EU treaty or ECJ rulings they will follow — that would be the end of the EU

“Poland expects equal treatment,” he said, as he accused the EU of “lawless blackmail”.

Clément Beaune, the French Europe minister and a key ally of President Macron, however accused the Polish government of defying the "rule of law".

He said: "This is not a technical or a legal question.

"This is a highly political topic that adds to a long list of provocations aimed at the EU.”

Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, also fired awarning shot at Poland – and threatened they could even be kicked out of the EU.

"If a country decides politically to be part of the EU, then it must ensure that the agreed rules are fully and completely implemented," he said.

EU officials argue Poland's attempts to bulldoze Brussels rules open the country's courts up to political interference and undermine judicial independence.

Senior European diplomatic sources have said the EU would tell Poland that it had to follow European law or leave, reports The Times.

"No one can pick or choose which bits of the EU treaty or ECJ rulings they will follow — that would be the end of the EU," they said.

Polish prime minister Mr Morawiecki  insisted the country wants to stay in the EU- but some of his closest allies continue to fire up anti-EU sentiments.

Marek Suski has talked about fighting the "occupiers" from the EU, while Ryszard Terlecki has hailed the UK for showing how to beat the "the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy".

It has been speculated Morawiecki's government could be preparing the ground for a Brexit-style departure from the EU in the coming years.

However, at the moment Poland is still waiting on a £50billion recovery package from the EU.

Jacek Karnowski, editor of the pro-government Sieci weekly, told the BBC that Polexit is now a serious matter for discussion in Poland.

He compared the country to Britain and said it a "pround, independent" nation – but one which is "weaker" in the context of the EU.

Mr Karnowski said the current row is an example of Poland asserting its sovereignty and pushing back agains the EU.

And he speculates that Brussels may have set Warsaw a trap, with them either bowing to the EU's demands or facing expulsion from the bloc without access to the key relief funds.

"If the government were to say we want to leave, there would be a change of government, so it's a trap set by Brussels," he said.

"Government officials feel they are being cheated by Brussels. Thursday's ruling was decided in some sense by the EU's position."

However, right now he sees a potential Polexit as "unrealistic".

Poland has been a member of the EU since 2004 and has seen some the quickest economic growth in the bloc.

But the rise of a nationalist government has seen it at odds with the European Commission.

"I think…there is a risk that we could exit the EU, because all of these actions which are happening can lead to that, step by step," said Warsaw pensioner Grazyna Gulbinowicz.

"I think it would have a very negative impact on our overall situation, because things are not easy and without EU funds it will be even more difficult, not to mention the fact that we will feel isolated."

"We have to state clearly that this government in Poland is playing with fire," Luxembourg's minister for foreign affairs, Jean Asselborn, said on arrival for a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.

"The primacy of European law is essential for the integration of Europe and living together in Europe. If this principle is broken, Europe as we know it, as it has been built with the Rome treaties, will cease to exist."

The EU could even raise doubts about Polish access to EU grants for cohesion and structural projects in the 2021-2027 budget worth several times the recovery package, on the grounds that a country that rejects EU law cannot guarantee that the funds are spent as agreed, free of fraud.

"If European legal acts are no longer accepted, it is questionable whether Poland can still profit from the enormous amounts of EU funding it currently receives," said Monika Hohlmeier, a member of the European Parliament from the centre-right group of the European People's Party.

However, a Eurobarometer survey carried out in June and July 2021 showed that almost twice as many Poles trust the EU as trust their own national government.

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