CJEU ruling goes beyond EU competences - Polish PM

Leszek Szymański/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has described a ruling by the top EU court dismissing Poland's and Hungary's complaints against a rule of law conditionality mechanism as "another step in which the EU institutions are expanding their competences."

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling opened the possibility for the bloc to halt billions of euros in post-pandemic recovery funding to the member states which break European laws on the rule of law.

The Polish government has been accused of undermining the rule of law through a series of changes to the judicial system.

"It is hard to say that the CJEU judgment surprised us in any way, because otherwise the EU and the institutions: the EC and the CJEU would contradict their own jurisprudence with which we deeply disagree," Morawiecki told a press conference.

He said that the EU institutions themselves now set the limits of their competences. "But it should not be like that. The limits of competences are strictly defined in the (EU - PAP) treaties," he added.

"The process of expanding competences is very disturbing, it is very dangerous. This is one of the many judgments that adds a chapter to this book of expanding competences," Morawiecki added.

He said that Poland had warned that the centralisation of EU structures is a dangerous process.

Morawiecki pointed out that, according to the CJEU judgment, the conditionality mechanism may be applied only in the event of a breach of rules governing the implementation of EU funds.

He also noted that according to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which investigates and verifies whether EU funds are spent in accordance with the EU law, in Poland there are almost four times less irregularities in managing EU funds than the EU average.

Earlier, Piotr Mueller, the Polish government spokesperson, told a Wednesday press briefing in Warsaw that the CJEU's ruling "confirms a dangerous tendency of the top EU court and the bloc institutions to go beyond EU treaties."

According to him, there are no legal grounds to withhold funds from Poland.

"If the provisions of the law adopted by the EU Council were to be duly respected and implemented, we believe that there is no legal basis for Poland to have EU funds blocked," Mueller said.

He listed several EU countries which "perform much worse" than Poland when it comes to the correctness of spending EU funds, under OLAF's investigations. These include Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.