Written by Staff Writer
Majdan Nosarov, CNN
The European Union has reacted angrily to a move by Poland to challenge its legitimacy in court, signaling a new flare-up in tensions between the bloc and one of its largest members.
Poland’s new nationalist government sent documents to a European Union court arguing the bloc was not directly accountable to its people.
The move came after the European Commission threatened to impose financial sanctions on Warsaw for legislating against the bloc’s rules on immigration and EU budget-sharing.
EU President Donald Tusk said the decision to challenge the bloc’s credibility was a “very serious mistake,” and would set a “dangerous precedent.”
“The decision that has been taken by the Polish side is a real obstacle for us to work together on all of the major issues that worry us — especially those that affect Europe’s existence,” Tusk, who was Polish prime minister until last year, told reporters at an EU summit on Thursday.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the Polish move was designed to undermine the EU’s authority.
“I will say what we have been saying for a while now; democracy and European integration go hand in hand,” Mogherini said.
“The Polish government has done everything that it was not able to do. But of course there is a big responsibility on the other side of the balance sheet.”
Poland, which sees itself as the guardian of Western values, has taken on a more assertive stance within the EU in recent months, at odds with Brussels over its handling of immigration, EU budget-sharing and a draft law that could leave hundreds of thousands of people in the country without the rights to work and live there.
The country has lost elections to the euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) party since taking power in 2015, and its government has come under increased EU pressure.
The actions of the Polish government have prompted concerns about the country’s commitment to the European ideal, and the government has sought to restore the Polish belief that it is a key part of the European project.
Poland has also backed moves by the UK to leave the EU, and its diplomats have been active behind the scenes campaigning for the country to do the same.
In a recent statement, PiS deputy head Jakub Adamowski said the EU “is more interested in attaching obedience to the decisions of the European Court of Justice than to the rule of law and the rights of citizens.”
The new Polish government has steadfastly resisted pressure by Brussels, which has repeatedly warned it could impose financial sanctions in addition to themtaking action over judicial reforms that have infringed on judicial independence.
“The present situation between the European Commission and Poland is serious and threatens to undermine the spirit of cooperation and to compromise on the rule of law,” the Polish government argued in its letter to the European Court of Justice.
Poland argues the European Commission does not have the competence to direct the membership of the EU but can only carry out enforcement on the body.
The government says this means it should have “a part of sovereignty” over the nation’s legal system, as stated in the EU Constitution.