Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday said that concerns over a potential exit from the European Union, or “Polexit,” is “fake news,” the Associated Press reported. His comments came the day after mass protests took place nationwide over a government policy that critics warned could cause Poland to lose its position in the bloc.
The demonstrations began after a top court, in a case set in motion by Morawiecki’s questioning of the bloc’s legislative supremacy over member nations, ruled that the Polish Constitution held authority over EU law. Morawiecki took to Twitter to call rumors of Poland leaving the union a “harmful myth” and said that all of the country’s commitments designated by EU law “remain in force,” the AP reported.
The “Union is too serious a Community to be taken into the realm of fairly tales,” Morawiecki tweeted Monday. “It is a place of mutual benefits, but also of real challenges to all the Union nations.”
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Poland’s right-wing government has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its policies, mainly in the justice sector, and insists the 27-member bloc needs adjustments.
The head of Poland’s influential Roman Catholic Episcopate that is supportive of the government, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, told Vatican Radio in Rome that “we all want to stay in Europe” and that “no reasonable person wants to leave it.”
Authorities in Warsaw estimated participation in Sunday protests at up to 100,000. Protests were also held in many other cities.
Warsaw police said that four people were detained, including a nephew of Morawiecki who alleged that a police officer kicked him in the head while he was on the ground while being detained.
Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak confirmed the temporary detention of Franek Broda, with the use of handcuffs, but did not address allegations of police brutality. Broda, 18, is a government critic and a LGBT rights activist.
A few dozen people were fined for lighting flares and obstructing traffic during the protest and subsequent march to the headquarters of Poland’s ruling right-wing nationalist Law and Justice party.
Critics and opposition parties say the ruling by the constitutional court, where many judges are government loyalists, can be seen as a rejection of EU values and may potentially lead to Poland being forced out of the 27-member bloc.
Poland’s government has been in conflict with the EU for six years as it seeks control over the country’s courts and judges. The EU views the pursued changes as an erosion of democratic checks and balances.
EU membership is appreciated in Poland, having brought wide freedoms, including the freedom to travel, and economically transformed the central European nation, which had endured decades of communist rule until 1989.
Morawiecki asked the constitutional court for a review after the European Court of Justice ruled in March that Poland’s new regulations for appointing Supreme Court justices undermine judicial independence and could violate EU law. It ordered the right-wing government to suspend the regulations, which the government has not done.