Rule of law clause violates rule of law, Polish PM tells German daily

EU plans to link funding to respect for the rule of law in the next EU budget are themselves a crass violation of the rule of law, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a German newspaper.

Asked by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung why Poland and Hungary were prepared to veto the budget if the rule of law clause was upheld, Morawiecki said both countries feared the clause could become an arbitrary tool to discipline EU members who contested decisions by Brussels.

"Our main fear is that this mechanism will be used in a very arbitrary and politically motivated way,” he said. “We don't like the Polish government, so off it goes to the whipping post. And tomorrow it's the Italians or the Portuguese - and there go their funds. And the paradox is, that this mechanism bypasses the Treaties. A mechanism that is to ensure observance of the rule of law is itself a grave violation of this same rule of law.”

Asked in the name of what values Poland and Hungary were prepared to risk losing funds and falling out of grace with other EU countries, Morawiecki replied: "I could reverse the question and ask in the name of what values are the EC and the European Parliament willing to bypass regulations laid down in the Treaties? It's a little like placing German law above the German constitution."

Morawiecki said the rule of law mechanism was extremely dangerous as it made legislation instable and invited abuse. "Wise law is universal, not particularistic, and the present mechanism is particularistic. Such measures can be abused. If we include such arbitrary, politically driven measures in the law, sooner or later someone will make use of them in a way that will have dire consequences for the EU," he warned.

Asked about the growth opportunities EU membership has brought Poland, Morawiecki said this was true, but noted that EU enlargement had been a "win-win" situation, as it also brought major benefits to the Western countries. He added that this was why the Central-East European EU members felt responsible for the Union’s future.

"This was a win-win situation,” he said. “In Poland we can see the huge progress that has taken place over the 15 years of our EU membership. But Western Europe has also had huge benefits from enlargement. This is precisely why we feel responsible for the future of the EU."

Asked about the tension between the EU's eastern and western members, Morawiecki said all peoples differed at some levels, but should nonetheless strive to understand one another and cooperate.

"All nations differ, and on a multitude of levels,” said the prime minister. “The key is mutual understanding and cooperation. We are a Europe of countries, and this is how it should remain."