Warsaw sent shockwaves across Europe earlier this month after Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled elements of EU law were incompatible with the Polish constitution. The move has ignited the prospect of a so-called “Polexit” from the EU and sparked anger from officials in Brussels.
The ruling Polish government has since called for EU reforms but has distanced itself from calls for an outright exit of the bloc.
The British people voted to leave the European Union in 2016, but the process only became active in 2017 after the then Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
The move inadvertently gave the bloc some control over the timetable for talks and made room for several last-minute concessions from the UK.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has no intention of quitting the bloc or triggering Article 50, but the tribunal ruling means Warsaw can temporarily stray away from EU rules – while continuing to receive funding from the bloc, the Telegraph reports.
Poland is set to receive £20billion (€23.9billion) in grants and £10billion (€12.1billion) in loans as part of the EU’s Covid recovery fund.
EU officials are still mulling over potential sanctions for Poland, but at this stage Warsaw continues to reap the benefits of membership.
The Telegraph’s Europe Editor James Crisp wrote: “Britain was repeatedly told in the Brexit negotiations that it could not enjoy the privileges of EU membership without its obligations.
“But, for now, Poland is having its cake and eating it.”
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The EU chief warned the bloc could take legal action, cut funding or suspend Poland’s voting rights.
European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, speaking after a meeting of EU ministers, said the EU would start “written procedures” against Poland in the coming weeks.
Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party says it has no plans for a “Polexit”, but addressed concerns with the EU in an open letter.
Mr Morawiecki warned the bloc could be moving towards a “centrally managed organism, governed by institutions deprived of democratic control”.
He added: “EU competencies have clear boundaries, we must not remain silent when those boundaries are breached.
“So we are saying yes to European universalism, but we say no to European centralism.”