‘Polexit’: Poland court ruling sparks fear of leaving European Union

Poland joined the EU in 2004, the country was the biggest success story of the bloc’s eastern expansion.

But a ruling by Polish judges has sparked fears that a “Polexit”, to follow the UK’s Brexit from the EU, could one day cease to be an idea from political fiction. The judges said the EU laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn warned on Friday that the ruling was “playing with fire”. France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune said it flew in the face of the rules Poland had accepted by joining the bloc, and raised the risk of a “de facto exit”.

When you sign a contract with someone and say ‘My rule, which I define when I want and how I want, is worth more than what I have signed with you’, there is no more contract,” Beaune told BFM TV.

Opinion surveys suggest that more than 80 percent of Poles want their country to remain in the EU. Poland’s conservative-nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) insists that the idea that it could take the country out of the union is nonsense.

“The entry of Poland and the countries of central Europe to the EU was one of the most important events of the last decades. Both for us and for the EU itself. We all won from this,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.

“That is why I say clearly: the place of Poland is and will be in the European family of nations.”

The Polish ruling is more serious given that it explicitly rejects key parts of EU law as incompatible with the country’s constitution in a challenge brought by the country’s own prime minister.

The European Commission is likely to consider as a minimum bringing infringement proceedings over the judgment. The commission could reject a Polish funding request of €36 billion submitted in May.

The commission could also withhold Poland’s regional development funds under certain circumstances.

The risk is that withholding billions of euros could magnify an anti-EU stance worsening ties.