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Tens of thousands flock to pro-EU demonstrations in Polish cities


Tens of hundreds of Poles rallied to point out their assist for EU membership on Sunday night, days after a ruling by the nation’s constitutional courtroom that infected tensions between Warsaw and Brussels.

Donald Tusk, chief of the primary opposition Civic Platform social gathering, referred to as the protests in response to the ruling, which mentioned that elements of EU regulation had been incompatible with the Polish structure and sparked questions over whether or not the nation may in the future go away the bloc in a so-called “Polexit”.

Within the capital Warsaw, hundreds of individuals gathered within the sq. in entrance of the Royal Palace within the metropolis’s outdated city, waving EU and Polish flags, holding placards with slogans akin to: “I used to be born in [communist Poland]. I desire to die within the EU,” and chanting: “We’re staying.”

“I got here right here as a result of I don’t need Poland to be outdoors the EU. I bear in mind what communism seemed like and I don’t need Poland to return to that once more,” mentioned Miroslaw from Warsaw, holding a Polish flag. “Being here’s what being a patriot means to me.”

Demonstrations additionally befell in lots of different Polish cities, together with Poznan, Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk and Lublin. In Warsaw, nationalists held a smaller counterdemonstration and tried to drown out pro-EU audio system in entrance of the Royal Palace.

The ruling by the constitutional tribunal final Thursday delivered to a head years of tensions between Warsaw and Brussels, which have been constructing for the reason that conservative-nationalist Legislation and Justice social gathering (PiS) launched into a sequence of reforms that give politicians sweeping powers over judges.

The EU’s high courtroom has ordered Poland to reverse a number of points of the overhaul, together with an try to purge the Supreme Courtroom, and a brand new disciplinary regime that enables judges to be punished for the content material of their rulings.

Nevertheless, PiS insists that the EU has no proper to intervene in its judicial reforms, which it argues are a purely home matter and essential to overhaul a lumbering and inefficient system.

Earlier this yr Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, requested the constitutional tribunal, which has been full of authorities loyalists, to rule on whether or not provisions of EU regulation getting used within the dispute conflicted with the Polish structure.

The tribunal’s ruling that there was a battle has despatched shockwaves by way of the EU and sparked questions in each Poland and different EU capitals over whether or not the central European nation, as soon as seen as the large success of the bloc’s 2004 japanese growth, may in the future go away.

People in Lublin hold a rally in support of Poland’s membership of the EU
Folks in Lublin maintain a rally in assist of Poland’s membership of the EU © Agencja Gazeta by way of REUTERS

PiS politicians dismiss the concept they wish to go away the EU as nonsense designed to undermine the social gathering within the eyes of the greater than 80 per cent of Poles who wish to stay throughout the bloc.

“There can be no Polexit. That could be a propaganda invention which has been used in opposition to us many occasions,” PiS’s chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, mentioned final month. “We wish to be within the EU. However on the similar time, we wish to stay a sovereign state.”

Nevertheless, critics say that even when the social gathering doesn’t got down to go away the EU, it may find yourself setting in prepare a dynamic that finally results in a Polish withdrawal, a lot as David Cameron’s makes an attempt to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU when he was British prime minister culminated in Brexit.

“We have to present the federal government that there’s a restrict to them destroying the nation,” mentioned Maria Kaminska, a 42-year-old who joined the protest in Warsaw. “I’m increasingly ashamed of this nation. I really feel European, I imagine in western values. I really feel a part of the European group and I wish to keep there.”

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