Poland accuses Germany of turning EU into ‘Fourth Reich’

Poland has accused Germany of turning the European Union (EU) into a federal “Fourth Reich”.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland’s deputy prime minister and the head of the country’s ruling party, ”If we Poles agreed with this kind of modern-day submission we would be degraded in different ways.”

”Some countries are not enthusiastic at the prospect of a German Fourth Reich being built on the basis of the EU,” Kaczynski said.

”EU’s Court of Justice is being used as an instrument for federalist ideas,” he added.

Also read | EU-Poland spat: Polish PM accuses EU of ‘blackmail’

Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the European Union “misinterprets” the powers it has been given. 

“The trend of developing democratic centralism … is unfortunately progressing” he said.

It comes after the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland over rulings by the country’s constitutional tribunal in July and October that challenged the primacy of EU law over national law.

European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told a news conference the rulings deprived individuals in Polish courts of their legal guarantees in the Treaty of the European Union.

Also read | France calls Poland court ruling ‘attack against EU’

Gentiloni said the Commission did not consider the tribunal met the requirements of independence and impartiality required by EU law.

The legal action by the Commission, which is the guardian of EU treaties, is an escalation of the conflict with Warsaw over the rule of law that began when Poland’s ruling nationalist and euro-sceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party took power in 2015.

Deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta wrote on Twitter that the action was an attack on Polish sovereignty and the country’s constitution.

However, opposition lawmaker Robert Kropiwnicki said the rulings of the “pseudo-Tribunal” meant Poland was excluding itself from EU treaties, and saying it was another step towards “Polexit”.

Poland has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice. If the Commission is not satisfied with Warsaw’s reply, it can send Poland a reasoned opinion requesting it to comply with EU law, again with a two-month reply period.

After that, the Commission can sue Poland in the European Court of Justice, which can impose daily fines on Warsaw until it complies.

It has already imposed such daily fines on Poland in two other cases, which now add up to 1.5 million euros ($1.70 million) a day.

(With inputs from agencies)

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