(Bloomberg) -- The European Union indicated it won’t back down in its rule-of-law dispute with Poland, warning the eastern member that the opportunity for an amiable resolution may be slipping away.

The EU is withholding 36 billion euros ($42 billion) of stimulus funds bound for Poland, leading Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government to threaten to derail the bloc’s business, including sensitive climate talks that require unanimity among the 27 member states.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels Thursday will discuss a ruling by Poland’s top court that some of the bloc’s laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution, undermining a fundamental precept of the union. In addition to withholding the recovery money, the EU is considering other measures that could block payments to Poland from the budget and restrict its voting rights.

“The space for decent dialog that leads somewhere -- which is not just dialog for dialog -- is disappearing,” Vera Jourova, the EU’s vice president in charge of values, told reporters ahead of the summit. She added that the EU had other options and would “have to launch infringements.”

Macron Meeting

Morawiecki was planning to meet with EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, ahead of the Brussels gathering. Merkel had pushed for rule of law to not be raised during the two-day summit, but it was added following an aggressive appearance by Morawiecki in front of EU lawmakers on Tuesday.  

“Rule of law is a core of the stability of the European Union,” Merkel told reporters Thursday. “On the other hand, we need to find ways and possibilities for coming together, because a cascade of legal disputes at the European Court of Justice is not a solution to the problem of how the rule of law can be revived.”

Macron expressed his concerns to the Polish premier over the court decision and asked him to work with the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, to find a solution, according to an Elysee official, who asked not to be identified because the conversation was private. 

And Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, said that Poland’s actions must be discussed because it affects the EU’s basic architecture.

“If you come into the EU, you know the rules, but you can’t become a family member and say now the rules have to change,” he said.

But Morawiecki didn’t show any indication that he was willing to back down in the dispute. Earlier in the week he accused EU politicians of blackmailing Poland by withholding the stimulus funds and that the bloc’s top court was conducting a “silent revolution” with its verdicts, which he said undermine sovereign rule in member states.

“We are ready for dialog but won’t agree to increasing EU oversight,” Morawiecki said Thursday. 


©2021 Bloomberg L.P.