Polish constitutional court ruling questions EU foundations, EC head states

The head of the European Commission has said a judgement by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal challenging the primacy of EU law over national law questions the foundations of the EU.

Ursula von der Leyen’s warning came during a debate in the European Parliament over the tribunal’s ruling that found the Polish constitution was superior to that of the EU, despite the primacy of EU law being a central tenet of membership of the bloc.

The ruling has triggered an escalation in tensions between Poland and the EU.

Von der Leyen said the Polish ruling is "a direct challenge to the unity of the EU" and undermines the protection of judicial independence. She also said this was the first time an EU member has questioned the conformance of the EU Treaties with its own constitution.

"The rule of law is the glue that binds our union together," she said, adding that the ruling could have "serious consequences" for the Poles, who may find their rights threatened without independent courts.

Von der Leyen stressed that the ruling undermined the EU's legal order, and said that only a unified legal system guaranteed equal rights, legal safety and trust among the EU members.

She also said the EU did not recognise the Polish Constitutional Tribunal as an independent court.