Charles Crawford told GB News how the protests which erupted in over 100 locations across the country on Sunday mark a turning point for member states who will be gauging whether and what the European Union’s power is capable of achieving, such as entering into the domestic politics of Poland, following years of power handovers from member states to the bloc which come up against domestic constitutional issues of members.
It comes as more than 100,000 Poles marched in support of EU membership after a court ruling that parts of EU law are incompatible with the constitution raised concerns the country could eventually leave the bloc.
The ruling stems from what many are branding Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s attempts to push the country away from the European Union.
But despite growing speculation over what many are suggesting is a fading relationship between the bloc and Poland, Mr Crawford explained how the protests are not so much a result of a clash over the EU and Poland’s relationship.
He instead suggested the issues at stake are institutional issues that have a wider significance within the bloc.
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Mr Crawford explained: “It is really an institutional battle going on in Brussels, and with Warsaw, and with other member states of the limit of EU powers.”
He said how over the last 60 years observers have witnessed the power of EU institutions “really growing” but he stressed how it is EU member states themselves who have handed over that power to the bloc’s institutions.
The former ambassador added how the question on EU members states’ lips now is “what are the limits of those powers”.
He added: “What happens if a ruling of some sort in Brussels comes up against a national constitutional right? That is an interesting question, it is not a silly question.”
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Tweeting in support of the protests, Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt slammed: “Warsaw’s ready to march. Poland’s ready to defend European values and EU membership. When choices are clear and important people know all too well the EU is on their side.”
While France and Germany said in a joint statement that Poland had a legal and moral obligation to abide by the bloc’s rules completely and unconditionally.
On Saturday, the Polish foreign ministry said Poland respects binding international law, they said: “All obligations arising from both primary and secondary European Union law remain in force and thus, will continue to be fully respected by Poland,” it said in a statement.
“The provisions of the Treaty of the European Union indicated in the judgment… remain in force. What cannot be accepted are only the forms of their interpretation or application that violate the constitution.”