The European Union is threatened with disintegration if Brussels is unable to stop the flow of countries challenging the bloc’s dominance, a Romanian legal expert has said became the last to decide that EU treaties do not prevail over national laws.
The Bucharest-based Constitutional Court has challenged two judgments of the European Court of Justice as a blow to the EU legal order, saying that judges in Romania must place EU law above domestic law.
“National Constitutional Courts, which rule that EU law has no precedence over domestic law, are developing a very serious concern for the European Union,” said Professor Gavin Barrett, an expert in EU law at University College Dublin.
Brussels has been forced to defend itself against a number of similar challenges from Member States. The German and Polish Constitutional Courts argued that their judges should put domestic law first.
The European Commission is still at odds with Warsaw over its defiance of EU law, which caused fear of “Polexit”. Complaints against Berlin were dropped after the German government sent assurances that it fully supported the primacy concept.
All Member States agree with the provision of the Treaty, which dictates that EU law takes precedence over national law. The final arbiter of EU law is the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg, in accordance with the membership treaties.
“Much of the European Union’s power comes from EU law, which works uniformly and effectively throughout the 27 Member States. If you take that away, each Member State becomes a separate legal zone where single market rules apply, and criminal justice cooperation is it varies from one place to another, “Professor Barrett told The Telegraph.
“In other words, in the end, you don’t have a single legal system, a single market and a de facto crippled European Union. In its own way, this development is a crisis of greater significance than Brexit has ever been.”
“The EU has survived Brexit. But if the view is spread that dominance in national courts is no longer valid, then the EU will not survive – at least not in its current form.”
The EU is threatened with legal action
Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, could initiate legal proceedings against Romania, given “the true, lasting and persistent position of its Supreme Court that it is contrary to EU law or the binding nature of decisions of the European Court of Justice”.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the senior Eurocrat said he had not received sufficient assurances that Bucharest was ready to respect that the bloc’s laws should replace domestic legislation.
“We have received a response from the Romanian government, which says, ‘No, we want to fully respect the primacy … but within the framework of the Romanian Constitution.’ So this is not exactly the answer we received from the German government without any conditions, ”he said.
Are you still part of the project?
Under the Romanian constitution, the supreme authority of EU law is recognized, but when it is contrary to domestic law, judges can decide that national rules are better.
This raised doubts about Bucharest’s commitment to the European project and the independence of its judiciary.
The European Court of Justice is urging Romania to disband the prosecutorial unit for judges, which the Luxembourg-based court said could “be seen as intended to establish an instrument of pressure and intimidation against judges”.
Romania could follow Poland and receive multimillion-dollar fines if it does not comply with the rulings of the European Court of Justice.
But unlike Warsaw, Bucharest is already receiving payments of 800 billion euros (668 billion pounds) from the EU’s coronavirus recovery fund.
Brussels is expected to withhold more than 100 million euros (83.5 billion pounds) in Warsaw to cover unpaid fines of the EU Supreme Court.