Germany calls on Poland to "fully" implement EU law
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Terry Reintke, 34, appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight programme with the show’s host Emily Maitlis, 51. The Green MEP, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 2014, defended her decision to call on the Commission to withhold up to €57billion available to Poland in the bloc’s coronavirus relief fund.
Ms Reintke said: “We cannot be sure anymore that the EU money that is going to Poland will actually be spent according to EU law.
“And this is why, yes, we want to ask the Commission to not, for now, release these funds but to wait until the moment the Polish government actually agrees that they will have to implement the ECJ rulings as demanded.”
Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki from the populist Law and Justice Party, has described such calls as “threats” and even “blackmail”.
Mr Moraweicki said: “The language of financial blackmail, punishment, ‘starving’ of unsubordinated states, undemocratic and centralist pressures do not have a place in European politics.
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“Such language strikes not only at individual states but the entire community.”
But the German MEP suggested the problem was not between Warsaw and Brussels but an inter-Polish issue.
“It is not a conflict between EU institutions and Poland,” she said.
“It is basically an inner-Polish conflict between people who defend the rule of law and the Polish Government who wants to undermine it.”
The 34-year-old also said: “The Polish government does not want to implement ECJ rulings because they do not want to put a hold to their justice reform that is as was outlined before undermining the independence of the judiciary.”
Tensions between Brussels and Warsaw grew after a Polish court ruling essentially circumvented the EU’s power to interfere with the nation’s justice system.
Ms Reintke was then pushed on whether Poles should not get the government they voted for on election day.
“Absolutely, but even a democratically elected government does not have all power to do anything they want,” she responded.
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“They’re still bound by a constitution.
“And this is actually the most ironic thing about the situation because EU treaties and the Polish constitution are in no means in conflict about the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”
“So the question is just now is the Law and Justice Party going to follow the ECJ rulings that are confirming this, or are they actually in the end of the day threaten indeed a Polexit potentially.”
In 2019, Mr Morawiecki’s party topped the poll on eight million votes and went on to command a majority in Poland’s lower house, known as the Sejm.
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