The European Union "will start collapsing" unless it challenges a ruling by Poland's top court that national legislation trumps European laws, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová said, according to Reuters.
"If we don't uphold the principle in the EU that equal rules are respected the same everywhere in Europe, the whole of Europe will start collapsing. That is why we will have to react to this new chapter which the Polish constitutional court started to draw," Jourová said.
Poland's constitutional tribunal ruled on Thursday that key articles of EU law were "incompatible" with the Constitution. This decision caused fear among citizens that Poland could leave the European Union and forced over 100,000 people to protest across the country in defense of EU membership.
However, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) have said they do not plan for Poland to leave the European Union, which some have began calling "Polexit".
Many Western countries and international human rights activists have accused Poland of restricting media independence, as well as encroaching on the rights of women, migrants and LGBT people since the conservative Law and Justice Party came to power in 2015.
Critics also accuse the ruling Law and Justice Party of politicizing the judiciary. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal is now dominated by judges who sympathize with the ruling party. The European Court of Human Rights claims that one of them was appointed illegally.
In September The European Commission has issued an ultimatum to Poland after several voivodships declared themselves "LGBT-free zones". Brussels asked for clarification of what this means, worrying about human rights violations and the stigmatization of LGBT people.
In the same month, a new scandal broke out between Poland and the EU. A member of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, Ryszard Terlecki, said the dispute with the EU over judicial reform would require radical solutions, as Britain had done. The politician noted that Poles want to stay in the EU, but on acceptable terms, so that they are not forced to do things that restrict freedom and development. The statement came in light of the European Commission's appeal to the EU court to impose fines against Poland for its unwillingness to dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber, which restricts the independence of judges.
The European Commission, which is the guarantor of the EU treaties, is already refusing to approve a plan to restore Poland after the coronavirus pandemic worth billions of euros.
According to Reuters, in addition to blocking this assistance, the commission may use an untested instrument of coercion to suspend funding for countries that are believed to violate key values enshrined in European law.
Other bloc countries may resume the suspended investigation into the oppression of democratic rights in Poland, as a result of which its right to vote in the bloc may be suspended. The commission, headquartered in Brussels, could also file a new lawsuit against Warsaw for violating EU law. This could lead to sanctions imposed on the Polish government by the European Court.