(Bloomberg) -- Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned the European Union against instigating what he described as “the third world war” by holding up the country’s access to the bloc’s funds.
Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times published on Monday, Morawiecki threatened his government would “defend our rights with any weapons which are at our disposal,” suggesting that Poland could scupper the bloc’s ambitious plans for cutting greenhouse emissions.
His belligerent tone comes after Poland won some respite in its escalating row with the bloc over the country’s unilateral decision to reject the primacy of EU law, undermining the legal order in the 27-nation union. While the bloc’s leaders discussed the challenge at their summit last week, heavyweights such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron called for restraint.
The EU is reassessing how aggressively to approach the rule-of-law crisis in Poland after Morawiecki told leaders his government will dissolve the controversial mechanism for disciplining judges. The prime minister told the newspaper, the relevant legislation will be presented by the end of the year, at the latest.
But Morawiecki also said the European Commission must reverse its decision from September to seek daily fines against Poland for not implementing EU top court rulings related to changes in the courts.
“This would be the wisest thing they can do,” he told the newspaper. “Because then we are not talking to each other with a gun to our head.”
The row is the latest in the EU’s long-running battle with Poland’s nationalist government over changes to the judiciary that increased political influence over courts. Concern over the blurring of checks-and-balances in the EU’s biggest eastern member has led to a delay in approval of 36 billion euros ($42 billion) of EU funds earmarked for Poland.
Donald Tusk, the leader of the country’s main opposition party and a former European Council president, said the EU was “stunned” by Morawiecki’s wartime rhetoric and that the bloc would eventually grant Poland access to funds.
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