Poland’s future within the EU has come under renewed uncertainty after the President of the European Council said the country’s “arrogant” rejection of EU law signals its desire to exit the union.
Donald Tusk, Poland’s former Prime Minister, hit out at his home country’s ruling Law and Justice party Thursday, saying that its fragile relationship with the EU had moved closer to breaking point.
“There is a question mark over Poland’s European future today,” Tusk told reporters in Warsaw Thursday.
Brussels has been at loggerheads with Poland in recent weeks over the conservative government’s attempts to expand their powers. The EU claims that laws aimed at reforming the judiciary undermine the independence of judges and therefore break EU treaty rules. The government has since ignored a European Court of Justice order to halt tree logging in the Bialowieza forest, a Unesco World Heritage site.
“The fact that a European tribunal decision is rejected so arrogantly is evidence of something very dangerous in my opinion — it is an overt attempt to put Poland in conflict with the European Union,” Tusk said.
Tusk noted that several actions of the Polish government appear to be “very controversial” and could risk the country’s continued EU status. Brussels has already been considering triggering Article 7 of the EU treaty, a legal process which could suspend the country’s voting rights.
“It smells like an introduction to an announcement that Poland does not need the European Union and that Poland is not needed for the EU,” Tusk noted.
“I am afraid we are closer to that moment.”
Tusk’s comments came as he was in the Polish capital giving evidence to the Polish prosecutor’s office over allegations of negligence in his government’s handling of an investigation into a plane crash in 2010. The crash killed many high-ranking Polish officials, including then-president Lech Kaczynski, brother of the head of the Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.