Brussels (AFP)

"We will of course discuss how to settle the current disputes," added the Polish official.

During his meeting with Mr. Morawiecki, the French head of state "expressed his concerns about the situation created by the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court," said the Elysee.

"He called on his counterpart to engage in a dialogue with the Commission to find a solution compatible with our principles and our common rules", according to the same source.

Warsaw has been in conflict with Brussels for several years over judicial reforms undertaken by the ruling Nationalist Conservative Party (PiS), accused of undermining the independence of judges.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieckide in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, October 19, 2021 RONALD WITTEK POOL / AFP

Tensions have increased since a decision on October 7 by the Polish Constitutional Court - close to the PiS and seized by Mateusz Morawiecki - which declared certain articles of the European treaties incompatible with the national Constitution.

A decision denounced by Brussels as an unprecedented attack on the primacy of European law and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU, but also as the ultimate illustration of the lack of independence of the Polish justice with regard to the government.

Warsaw can count on Budapest's support in its standoff with the EU.

"There is a witch hunt in Europe against Poland, the Poles are right," declared sovereignist Viktor Orban, also regularly pinned down by Brussels on rule of law issues.

He denounced an "abuse of authority" of the European institutions.

"Non-negotiable"

In contrast, the Dutch leader Mark Rutte considered that it was necessary to "be firm" with regard to Warsaw.

"The independence of the Polish judicial system is a key issue (...) and Poland must take the necessary measures. It is non-negotiable", he warned.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo estimated that "a red line has been crossed" with the judgment of the Polish court.

"We must not allow a la carte menus" in the EU, stressed his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg.

"Poland must take threats of financial sanctions very seriously," he added.

Germany has been keen to avoid a "confrontation" with Warsaw.

"Cascading disputes before the Court of Justice of the EU are not a solution in terms of the rule of law," warned Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also spoke with Mr. Morawiecki.

This summit should be the last of a hundred for the German leader, on the departure after 16 years in power.

"We must all take our responsibilities when it comes to protecting our fundamental values", however declared Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who had promised on Tuesday, during a debate in the European Parliament in the presence of Mr. Morawiecki, to crack down on Poland.

Several capitals deem inconceivable an approval of the Polish stimulus plan of 36 billion euros, currently blocked by the Commission which calls for guarantees on the independence of the judicial system of the country.

MEPs, for their part, put pressure on the Commission by threatening it with legal action so that it immediately triggers a new mechanism to suspend payments of European funds to countries where violations of the rule of law are noted. affecting the Community budget.

A procedure that could target Poland and Hungary.

The rise in energy prices in the European Union Romain ALLIMANT AFP

The Member States, on the other hand, recommend waiting for the position of the Court of Justice of the EU on this regulation before using it, to avoid a disavowal which would be catastrophic for Brussels.

The mechanism is currently the subject of an action for annulment by Poland and Hungary before the European courts, and a decision is not expected before the end of the year or early 2022.

Meeting until midday on Friday, leaders must also discuss soaring energy prices, delays by some member countries in vaccination against Covid-19 and tensions with Belarus around migrants.

© 2021 AFP

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