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EU Commission issued ‘World War 3’ warning as Poland says Brussels ‘put gun to our head’ | Politics | News

EU member states ‘questioning union’ following Poland clash

The Polish leader warned the EU Commission was risking of starting a third world war by making demands on the rule of law. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Morawiecki said the EU was putting a “gun to our head”.

He added: “What is going to happen if the European Commission will start the third world war?

“If they start the third world war, we are going to defend our rights with any weapons which are at our disposal.”

Brussels is currently withholding recovery funds against Poland until the dispute is resolved.

But the Polish leader said: “We will get this money sooner or later.

“The later we get it, the stronger the proof that there is this discrimination treatment and diktat type of approach from the European Commission.”

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels after a European Council summit last week, where Poland’s adherence to rule of law was discussed, Mr Morawiecki said his country has no problem with the rule of law.

EU news: Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki warned Commission of WW3 threat (Image: GETTY)

He added that the European Union has large competences but these were not boundless, and that the bloc could only function within those assigned competences.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that Europe was waiting for “concrete gestures” from Poland to solve the current spat with the European Union over the independence of the Polish judiciary.

Earlier this month, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that elements of EU law were incompatible with the country’s charter, challenging a central tenet of EU integration.

Speaking at the end of her last EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU countries need to deepen talks about where the 27-nation bloc should be heading to in order to mitigate and solve disputes such as the current row with Poland.

She told reporters: “There is the issue of the independence of justice, but also underlying (the question) … which way is the European Union heading, what should be a European competence and what should be tackled by nation states.

READ MORE: EU suffers tense summit – Poland row continues to ‘tear away’ at bloc 

“If you look at Polish history, it is very understandable that the question of defining their national identity plays a big role…, which is a different historical situation than the one countries find themselves in that have had democracy since World War 2.”

EU leaders lined up to chastise Warsaw last week for challenging the EU’s legal foundations, but Poland’s premier said he would not bow to “blackmail”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he was ready to resolve disputes with Brussels, though many are worried that a stubborn ideological rift between eastern and western Europe poses an existential threat to the EU itself.

Long-running tensions between Poland’s ruling nationalists and the bloc’s liberal majority have spiked since Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled this month that elements of EU law were incompatible with the country’s charter, challenging a central tenet of EU integration.

The dispute not only risks precipitating a new fundamental crisis for the bloc, which is still grappling with the aftermath of Brexit.

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eu news poland eu commission recovery funds

EU news: The EU Commission is withholding Poland’s recovery funds (Image: GETTY)

It could deprive Poland of generous EU handouts.

“Some European institutions assume the right to decide on matters that have not been assigned to them,” Morawiecki said as he went into the talks, which come two days after the executive European Commission threatened to take action against Warsaw.

“We will not act under the pressure of blackmail … but we will of course talk about how to resolve the current disputes in dialogue.”

His wealthier Western counterparts are particularly keen to prevent their governments’ cash contributions to the EU benefiting socially conservative politicians who they see as undercutting rights fixed in European laws.

“If you want to have the advantages of being in a club, then you need to respect the rules,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said. “You can’t be a member of a club and say ‘The rules don’t apply to me’.”

Leaders of countries from Ireland to France urged Warsaw to come back in line.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, referring to Poland’s judicial overhaul that puts its courts under more government control, said it was difficult to see how new EU funding could be channelled to the eastern European country, adding: “We have to be tough”.

An EU official said Rutte stood firm when the matter was discussed at the summit, but most leaders said decisions on how to deal with Poland should be left to the European Commission.

Morawiecki’s Law and Justice (PiS) party has raised the stakes in years of increasingly bitter feuds with the EU over a range of democratic principles, from the freedom of courts and media to the rights of women, migrants and LGBT people.

The Commission has for now barred Warsaw from tapping into the 36 billion euros of grants and loans it requested from EU funds to help its economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top EU court may also slap more fines on Poland, the largest ex-communist EU country of 38 million people.

For the bloc, the latest twist in feuds with the eurosceptic PiS also comes at a sensitive time.

The EU last year made a leap towards closer integration by agreeing on joint borrowing to raise 750 billion euros for post-pandemic economic recovery, overcoming stiff resistance from wealthy northern states.

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