Polish PM to ask for court ruling on EU legal conflicts

FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks as he arrives to attend a face-to-face EU summit amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Brussels, Belgium December 10, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's prime minister will ask the country's Constitutional Tribunal to rule on conflicts between European Union law and the Polish constitution, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, deepening a long-running dispute over the rule of law.

The largest country in the EU's eastern wing has been involved in a spat with the bloc over judicial reforms Brussels says damage the independence of the judiciary. Conservatives in Poland say the EU is infringing on the country's right to make its own laws.

On Tuesday, the EU's top court said judges applying to join Poland's Supreme Court should have the right to challenge the opinions of a body reviewing candidates that critics say has become politicised, drawing a swift rebuke from Warsaw, which said the court was overstepping its mandate.

"According to the settled, long-term jurisprudence of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, there is no doubt as to the primacy of Polish constitutional norms over other legal norms," government spokesman Piotr Muller said in a statement.

"At the request of the Council of Ministers, in order to maintain the coherence of the Polish legal system, the Prime Minister will submit a request to the Constitutional Tribunal for a comprehensive settlement of the issue of conflict between European law norms and the Polish constitution," he said.

Critics of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party's judicial reforms say the Constitutional Tribunal itself has become politicised. Its head, Julia Przylebska, was described by PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski as a "close friend".

PiS say their reforms are necessary to make the judicial system function more efficiently and to remove a residue of Communist influence.

A spokesman for the Court of Justice of the EU declined to comment.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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