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World: EU top official says Polish ruling is a threat to the bloc

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

Addressing EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she is deeply concerned by the ruling, which she said is “a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order" and undermines the protection of judicial independence.

Polish project to help migrants crossing Belarus border

  Polish project to help migrants crossing Belarus border Lawyer suggests locals should switch on a green light to signal they can help migrants with food.Kamil Syller is appealing to locals living near the border to switch on a green light to signal that they can provide migrants with food and shelter.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sits Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sits Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

“The rule of law is the glue that binds our union together," von der Leyen said.

Relations between Poland and the EU reached a new low earlier this month after the tribunal ruled that Polish laws take precedence over those of the 27-nation bloc — which Poland joined in 2004 — escalating lingering tensions over democratic standards between the country’s right-wing nationalist government and Brussels institutions.

EXPLAINER: Why some fear a 'Polexit' from European Union

  EXPLAINER: Why some fear a 'Polexit' from European Union WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland will be a focus of European attention this week, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki addressing the European Parliament and leaders at a European Union summit expected to grapple with a legal conundrum created by a recent ruling by Poland's constitutional court. Some opponents of Poland's nationalist government fear that the court's ruling has put the country on a path to a possible “Polexit,” or a departure from the 27-nation EU like Britain did with Brexit. The government denounces those spreading the idea, which it calls “fake news.

The split came to a head at Tuesday's plenary of the European Parliament, where Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended his country’s stance that the highest law of Poland is the country's constitution and that stands above any other law.

But Morawiecki insisted that Poland abides by EU treaties and brushed off comment from opponents of Poland’s nationalist government who fear that the court’s ruling has put the country on a path to a possible “Polexit,” or an exit from the 27-nation EU.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

“We should not be spreading further lies about Poland leaving the EU," he said.

EU warns Poland it will pay for challenging common law

  EU warns Poland it will pay for challenging common law The European Commission's chief executive warned Poland on Tuesday that its challenge to the supremacy of European Union law called into question the very foundations of the 27-nation bloc and could not go unpunished. © YVES HERMAN/Pool/AFP/Getty Images European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech in Strasbourg on September 15. Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled last week that parts of EU law are incompatible with the Polish constitution, undermining the legal pillar on which the union stands and raising fears that Poland could eventually leave the bloc.

At the heart of the dispute is the question who should have the most power within the 27-nation bloc — each individual nation over their citizens or the EU institutions over the member nations. It was the prime mover behind the exit of Britain from the EU, and it has stirred passions in several eastern and central European nations like Poland and Hungary.

The whole idea behind the EU is that a united front will make the 27 nations a formidable power in the world, while they would be bystanders as individual countries. And even if member states are happy to see that power used in international relations, some abhor it when it affects them.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki poses before delivering his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki poses before delivering his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

In his speech, Morawiecki described Poland as a nation that is being intimidated and attacked by an EU whose top court issues rulings that aim to take more and more power away from its member states.

EU summit to load pressure on Poland over rule of law

  EU summit to load pressure on Poland over rule of law BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders will pressure a defiant Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday to fall back into line on recognizing that EU law trumps national decision-making, hoping that dialogue will stave off a fundamental crisis in the bloc. Morawiecki this week painted a picture of an overbearing union treating its 27 member nations as mere provinces, free to impose values at will against the wishes of sovereign people. Almost all other countries countered that respecting common rules and values is essential in a bloc if it is not to unravel.

He insisted that the EU must remain a union of sovereign states until the time that all its members agree by treaty to give up more of their own national powers.

“We are now seeing a creeping revolution taking place by way of verdicts of the European Court of Justice,” he said.

He also said he sees double standards in the EU rulings on Poland’s changes to its judiciary, noting that each country has its own judicial system, with politicians electing judges in some cases.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

The European Commission has several options to try to make Warsaw comply with EU law, notably by continuing to hold up the country’s access to billions of euros in European money to help revive its economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We cannot and we will not allow our common values to be put at risk. The Commission will act," von der Leyen said.

How Belarus is helping ‘tourists’ break into the EU

  How Belarus is helping ‘tourists’ break into the EU Belarus is accused of taking revenge for EU sanctions by offering migrants tourist visas, and helping them across its border. The BBC has tracked one group trying to reach Germany. © BBC The mobile phone camera pans left and right, but no-one moves. The exhausted travellers lie scattered among the trees. Jamil has his head in his hands, his wife Roshin slumped forward next to him. The others look dead.Late afternoon light slants through the forest, the pine trees forming a dense natural prison. They've been walking since four in the morning.

The commission can also start infringement procedures, or decide to activate a mechanism allowing the suspension of payments of EU money to a member country breaching the principles of the rule of law in a way that affects the bloc's budget or financial interests.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, right, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament while European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen , in red, listens, in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, right, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament while European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen , in red, listens, in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

Von der Leyen, however, said she is open to compromise.

“I have always been a proponent of dialogue and I will always be," she said. “This is a situation that can and must be resolved. And we want a strong Poland in a united Europe."

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

The Polish tribunal majority ruling — in response to a case brought by Morawiecki — said Poland’s EU membership did not give the European Court of Justice supreme legal authority and did not mean that Poland had shifted its legal sovereignty to the EU.

Poland plans 'radical' strengthening of its military

  Poland plans 'radical' strengthening of its military WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's ruling party leader presented plans Tuesday for a bill to “defend the fatherland,” legislation he said is aimed at “radically” strengthening the military as the country faces migration pressure from its eastern neighbor Belarus. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds the position of deputy prime minister but is undisputedly the most powerful politician in Poland, said the bill is needed due to a deteriorating international situation and also to Poland's geopolitical location.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center, delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union's top official locked horns Tuesday with Poland's prime minister, arguing that a recent ruling from the country's constitutional court challenging the supremacy of EU laws is a threat to the bloc's foundations and won't be left unanswered. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

Poland’s prime minister asked for the review after the European Court of Justice ruled in March that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling obliged Poland’s government to discontinue the rules that gave politicians influence over judicial appointments. To date, Poland has not complied.

Last month, the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to impose daily fines on Poland until it improves the functioning of the Polish Supreme Court and suspends the laws that were deemed to undermine judicial independence.

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Raf Casert in Brussels, Vanessa Gera and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this story.

EU court tells Poland to pay $1.2M a day in judicial dispute .
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s top court has ordered Poland to pay 1 million euros a day ($1.2 million) over the country's longstanding dispute with the bloc over judicial independence. The Wednesday ruling by the Court of Justice came after the the EU’s executive commission asked for “financial penalties” to ensure compliance with a ruling from July. The court said that the penalty was “necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law.

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