While Poland is engaged in a standoff with the EU, Thierry Breton brandished the Polish referendum of 2003 to justify his opposition to a court decision handed down by Warsaw. By forgetting the French referendum of 2005?
Would not the referendums organized on the future of the countries of the European Union all have the same value? This could be implied by an intervention by Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, on October 11, on France Inter.
As tension intensifies in the EU after a Polish court ruling asserting that national law prevails over European law, the former French Minister of the Economy did not hesitate to declare: “We are here to protect the Polish people who decided themselves and sovereign on the occasion of a referendum to join Europe […] Joining Europe means accepting that the European Court in Luxembourg takes precedence over national courts. ”
For the latter, this provision makes it possible to “protect the people” from an “illiberal” government that would “go against the values that the Polish people wanted when they joined Europe”.
And indeed, in June 2003, 77.6% of Poles who voted said “yes” to their country’s accession to the European Union in a national referendum. As a result, Poland became a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004.
Quid of the 2005 referendum in France?
But Thierry Breton’s clear stance refers his country of origin, France, to its recent history. Small step back: in May 2005, a referendum was organized to validate the idea of a European Constitution. Despite the media buzz around the need for the “yes” vote (71% of stakeholders in favor of the “yes” on television between January 1 and March 31, 2005, according to a stop on images count taken over by Acrimed) and the affirmed support of the President of the Republic in office Jacques Chirac, it is ultimately the no which wins with 54% of the voters.
However, while a majority of French people thought they had gotten rid of the idea of a European Constitution, Jacques Chirac’s successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, made the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty – the name given to the new text incorporating the essential of the treaty to which the French, but also the Dutch, had said “no” – a campaign promise.
The deputies and senators first met in congress, on February 4, 2008, to validate the revision of the Constitution, necessary for the ratification of the European Treaty of Lisbon. Then the text was finally adopted by the Assembly and the Senate in 2008 and entered into force in December 2009. It should be noted that the Netherlands will proceed in exactly the same way, ie through the parliamentary process.
Yet at the time, no one remembers having heard Thierry Breton, member of the Villepin government between February 2005 and May 2007, take such a clear position to ask that the will of the French people be respected. Maybe his campaign for a “yes” in the 2005 referendum had something to do with it? A report from France 2 in Arras (Pas-de-Calais), broadcast on May 14, 2005, shows him meeting employees of the Tax Office and holding a conference to promote the “yes”.
Should we deduce from this that the European Commissioner for the Internal Market would only validate referendums which would go in his direction? There is nothing to confirm it so bluntly, but brandishing the Polish referendum in this way after the 2005 episode could generate a certain skepticism among many observers. Not in any case with our colleague from France Inter, who did not, it seems, see fit to relaunch him on the subject.
Poland engaged in a standoff with Brussels
The Polish government is in conflict with Brussels in particular because of reforms of the judiciary which the EU believes will undermine the independence of the judiciary and risk leading to a reduction in democratic freedoms. On October 7, the Polish Constitutional Court challenged the primacy of European law over Polish law, ruling that several articles of European treaties “incompatible” with the country’s Constitution.
Before the judgment, the EU warned that the case could have “consequences” for the payment to Poland of European recovery funds after the Covid-19 crisis. The Polish authorities, for their part, have swept away the idea of a “legal Polexit”: “Poland’s place is and will be in the European family of nations”, assured the head of the Polish government, Mateusz Morawiecki on Facebook.
After the announcement of the court decision, government spokesman Piotr Müller considered that this decision “does not affect areas in which the EU has powers delegated in the treaties”, such as competition rules , trade and consumer protection.