Credit: European Parliament via Flickr under CC licence 4.0

Poles accuse Martin of being “offensive” on EU

The summit of EU leaders in Brussels came to a close with no firm decision being made on what steps ought to be taken to force Poland to toe the line on the EU’s insistence that the EU legal framework ought to have primacy over the constitutions of member states.

Part of the impasse is based on Poland’s refusal to bend, but also on the fact that action under Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty to either suspend Poland’s voting rights – which would require unanimity and therefore could be vetoed – or to declare that Poland is in breach of EU “values” – which requires 20 states to support it – are not politically possible.

Irish citizens will be interested to know that our Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been among the most belligerent of those EU Prime Ministers demanding punitive action against Poland. Having already declared that Poland had “gone too far” and that its defiance was a “slap in the face” for EU taxpayers, in Brussels Martin along with the Swedes and Dutch was one of the main protagonists on the side of the Feds.

A translation of a report from the Polish news site places Martin “among the leaders who were offensive to the Polish.” Curiously, both Macron and Merkel were described as not having attacked Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the overall tenor of the proceedings was described as “much less heated.”

Following from the behaviour of all of the Irish MEPs in the Parliament as reported here yesterday, questions need to be asked about the Irish political establishment’s position through all of this. Martin’s concern about the “EU taxpayer” are risible given the enormous debt which the EU was happy to land us with as part of the forced bank bailout  – a “betrayal” as Martin’s former Cabinet colleague Brian Lenihan described it – which also had the support of our other friends in the Obama/Biden White House.

With friends like this etc, etc. Perhaps Martin’s militancy on behalf of the Brussels bureaucracy is an illustration of the old saw about not keeping a dog and barking oneself? Who knows.

Meanwhile those who pointed out the implications of the inexorable extension of EU centralisation have once again been proven right. While the main text of the Lisbon Treaty does not uphold the primacy of EU law over the constitutions of member states, there is reference in an annexe to such primacy having been established through the precedent of case law, and the measures adopted under the different Treaties.

There was no claim to EU legal primacy in the founding Treaty of Rome in 1957 which would never have been agreed to had there been. Nor was the attempt to include it in the proposed EU Constitution successful as it was defeated when put to referendum in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

So Morawiecki has good grounds to claim that the current attacks on Polish and Hungarian legal sovereignty are based on “judicial activism” which seeks to do away with the right of national courts to determine whether an EU law is compatible with its own constitution. The Poles and the Hungarians have also cited in their support the decision by the German constitutional court in May 2020 to overrule the EU in a case involving bond purchases which the court ruled had evaded democratic scrutiny in Germany.

The ideological impetus for the moves against Poland is also underlined by the fact that the Dutch – who along with our own are among the minority of EU ultras in all of this – initially demanded financial sanctions against Poland over Poland’s alleged “anti LGBT+” stance.

The implications of all of this are that if the EU is successful then the ability of democratically elected member state parliaments to decide on key policy across a vast range of areas will be even further restricted.

Those restrictions have always been there, but like the cattle who only discover what the shiny fence is for when they push their noses against it, the reality of EU centralisation is only exposed when someone with rather more self-respect than our own satraps test the boundaries.

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