The EU in legal battle with ITSELF: The European Parliament sues bureaucrats in the European Commission for failing to stop payments to Poland amid Polexit row

  • The Commission failed to suspend payments to Poland over rule of law dispute 
  • A regulation was enforced last year which allows the EU to impose sanctions
  • EU Parliament accused the Commission of failing to live up to its promises

The EU is now at war with itself after the European parliament sued the European Commission in a dispute over the rule of law.

The lawsuit was submitted today against the Commission for its ‘failure to apply the Conditionality Regulation to the Court of Justice’.

The regulation, adopted last year, allows the EU to suspend payments to countries where the rule of law is under threat, which is currently taking place in Poland.

The Commission has not used the regulation despite Poland sparking a crisis with the bloc, and fears of a ‘Polexit’, after the country’s Supreme Court ruled their laws had legal primacy over EU diktats. 

EU Parliament president Sassoli said after submitting the lawsuit: ‘As requested in parliamentary resolutions, our legal service has brought an action against the European Commission for failure to apply the Conditionality Regulation to the Court of Justice today.

The EU is now at war with itself after the European parliament sued the European Commission in a dispute over the rule of law. Pictured: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

‘We expect the European Commission to act in a consistent manner and live up to what President von der Leyen stated during our last plenary discussion on this subject. Words have to be turned into deeds.’ 

The Commission and Poland remain locked in a struggle over Warsaw’s adherence to EU legal and democratic norms.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has said the EU executive will use ‘all instruments at our disposal’ to force Poland to backtrack on decisions seen as rolling back democratic standards, particularly Warsaw’s moves seen as undermining judicial independence.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last week addressed the European Parliament to defend his government’s stance, accusing the Commission of ‘blackmail’ and trampling member states’ sovereignty.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last week accused the Commission of ‘blackmail’ and trampling member states’ sovereignty

The issue dominated an EU summit at the end of last week during which Germany and France tried to ease tensions by essentially kicking the issue down the road to the next summit in December.

The Commission meanwhile is holding back 36 billion euros ($42 billion) in coronavirus recovery grants and loans to Poland until it bends on the judicial row.

It is also gathering evidence for further possible future action against Poland, including activating the ‘conditionality’ mechanism referred to by Sassoli.

While MEPs are vocal in wanting that mechanism triggered earlier, von der Leyen’s Commission says it has to move painstakingly to ensure it would prevail against a certain challenge before the European Court of Justice.

Sassoli indicated the parliament would keep holding the Commission’s feet to the fire.

‘We expect the European Commission to act in a consistent manner and live up to what President von der Leyen stated during our last plenary discussion on this subject,’ he said.

‘Words have to be turned into deeds.’

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