EU is holding a gun to Poland's head, PM says


The European Commission is making demands on Poland while holding a "gun to our head", and a decision to withhold funding could start “a third world war”, Poland's prime minister told the Financial Times newspaper on Monday.

Talking about Poland’s rule of law dispute with the EU, Mateusz Morawiecki said Brussels should withdraw the threat of economic sanctions, if it wants to resolve the conflict. 

This, added the prime minister, includes a request in September to impose a daily fine on Poland until it implements several European Court of Justice rulings related to the government’s overhaul of the judicial system.

The changes, one of the main bones of contention in the conflict, have been opposed by the EU, which says they limit the independence of judges.

Poland also faces the possibility of the EU withholding funding from a pandemic recovery fund owing to the concerns over the rule of law.

But Morawiecki said that such a move would start "a third world war", and promised that he would then defend Poland's position "with all weapons which are at our disposal."

Morawiecki said the rule of law clash was "a political process" and could be resolved through political dialogue instead of by dictate.

"Fortunately this is a political process. And political processes can be stopped by politicians. This would be the wisest thing they can do. Because then we are not talking to each other with a gun to our head," he said.

Morawiecki said that to ease tensions Poland would close down a disciplinary chamber for judges that the European Court of Justice found to be illegal by the end of the year.

The EU claims the chamber is a threat to the independence of judges, and tension over its existence escalated when Poland refused to comply with a ruling ordering its dismantlement.

Morawiecki said the chamber would be shut down, but warned that any move to reduce Poland's EU funding would be met with retaliation.

Commenting on the interview, Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister and European Council head and now leader of Poland's main opposition party Civic Platform, said the world was shocked by Morawiecki's warning of a war. 

"The world stands dumbfounded after the Polish prime minister's interview, in which he predicts a third world war started by Poland's conflict with the EU," Tusk said, adding that "stupidity is the cause of most serious political calamities."