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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  October 12, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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>> u.n. chief scesney world needs to find a way of forgetting money out of systems and to afghanistan to prevent a humanitarian crisis engulfing half of the population. antonio guterres raised the efforts of eight agencies but says it is not enough. >> afghanistan's fragile economy, which has been kept afloat by foreign aid over the past 20 years, suffered from the impact of drought. right now, with assets frozen,
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the economy is breaking down. banks are closing and essential services such as health care has been suspended in many places. >> kim jong-un says his country's weapons development is an act of self-defense. he says buildup is necessary to face hostile policies from the united states. the two of you as have been in accelerating arms race with both sides testing increasingly advanced short range ballistic missiles. early election results in iraq have a strong outcome from the party. the prime minister is set to have the next largest vote. demi schuurs president has approved a new government nearly three months after he fired the last one. the new cabinet will answer to him rather than the prime minister.
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his actions have divided the country and sparked widespread protests. antigovernment protesters have been demonstrating across bolivia. they say april rose to new law is a dangerous step towards a police state but the government things it is essential to tackle illicit earnings and boost the economy. in ethiopia, the people's liberation front says groups have launched coordinated attacks. fighter jets and drones are being used against them. jerry bolsonaro told journalists he was bored with questions about the country surpassing 600,000 deaths from covid-19. brazil has the second-highest number of death in the world. those headlines, coming up next on "inside story." ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> a huge show of support for the european union. thousands of people rally in poland after a top court rejected one of the e.u.'s founding legal principles. could poland follow the u.k. and leave the block? and how should e.u. leaders respond? this is "inside story." hello. welcome to the program. i am adrian finighan. one of the european union's core principles is the supremacy of its laws. regulations decided in brussels are applied equally across 27 member states and override national legislation. poland is challenging that idea.
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it's top court ruled that parts of e.u. law are not compatible with the polish constitution. the government in warsaw welcomed the decision but e.u. leaders are threatening to retaliate. on sunday, hundreds of thousands of polish protesters purged their government to commit to keeping poland in the block. we will bring in our guests in just a moment, but first, a report. >> large crowds and e.u. flags aplenty in central warsaw and real fears for the country's future. >> we would like to stay in the european union. we are very afraid that we are going to -- with the government of the others. >> it is like a magician, who is playing with fire, and he does not know how to stop. so it's going to explode so i
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think it is the same here. they don't really know what they do. >> since the constitutional tribunal ruled on thursday that foundational parts of lot don't apply in poland, opposition politicians and e.u. supporters have been mobilizing. the turnout here, it reinforces a central point. support for the european union in poland is overwhelming. some 75% to 80% of the population. not even the ruling law and justice party questions poland's membership at the european union so it begs the questionwhy is the government picking such a potentially dangerous fight with brussels? we did invite poland's government and supporters in the media to explain their position but none took the opportunity. i put the question to adam. until being ousted by the same tribunal that ruled against the e.u., he was poland's human rights abundance men -- abutment
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-- representative. >> we can take all those benefits but please leave us alone when it comes to pressure concerning the compliance of the european standards but it is impossible simply because you cannot be at the same time a member of the european union and ignore basic rules of european integration. >> the e.u. is thinking about its response. it neither wants to let this slide nor worsen the dispute. >> we will react like we have done in the last weeks and months. we have seen that, again, we are waiting now for new decisions in the court of justice about the situation in poland and also possible financial sanctions. >> the constitution joins issues like judicial reforms, abortion, and lgbt rights. connective france in a power struggle between poland's government and the e.u. that is getting worse, not better.
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>> other e.u. member states are resisting some of the shared values. hungary backed poland's controversial call. victor or bond has been at odds with the e.u. about independence. the european commission is worried about political interference in the legal system of some of its member states. it is also concerned about attacks on journalists and hostility towards activists defending women's and lgbtq rights. 11 member states including austria and ireland say the e.u. should respect their authority to set their own policies on education, childcare, and labor laws. let's bring in our guest for today's discussion from warsaw. a lawyer and cofounder of the #threecourts initiative. from dresden and from
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brussels, peter. a lawyer and editor of brussels report.eu. gentlemen, welcome to you all. is poland heading for the e.u.'s exit door? >> that is a very serious concern because that is a consequence of the battle that we have for the last six years. when the constitutional court issues the verdict saying that the polish government and -- they do not have to accept, do not have to execute the rulings of the european court of justice. that is the issue because the polish government do not have -- do not want to have the control from the european institutions when it comes to the independence of judiciary. polish government and polish
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parliament throughout the last six years changed the system of the judiciary in poland. from the systemic point of view, it is captured by the government. it is not independent anymore. that is why brussels and luxembourg in the european court of justice is trying to force through servants -- preservence of the law. adrian: it says the e.u. will react to the pronouncement. is it possible the e.u. could say to poland either you change the constitution or you simply cannot remain a member state? >> in my understanding, poland has already left the community. it's not a matter of is it happening one day under certain conditions? the e.u. consist of different
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legal communities. it is an economic immunity, a community of principals and cultural values, a political community, and most importantly, it is a legal one. if a country claims that it is no longer legally committed to the obligations, only wants to use the privileges and the rights, it has said goodbye to the leader community. the problem with the e.u. is that it is not a state. the torture instruments are rather limited because the ones that will be tortured are the ones who have collectively to decide the use of the torture instruments and you always find someone who fears that if i do this now and if i stick to the rules of the community, i will be next, and that is why or bond from hunger -- orbon from hungary is backing the position of the polish government. adrian: it has been described as
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a massive escalation of the crisis of the rule of law in poland. what are the applications of if poland does not voluntarily withdraw from the union, what are the chances of it being frozen out legally from within? >> legally, it's not possible to exclude member states. the european commission can initiate an infringement procedure and it can ultimately, nate in a fine if poland does not pay the fine. then the commission can take the money from the transfers that the polish state receives from the european union. and there's also the so-called article seven procedure which in theory allows member states to vote, so poland no longer has voting rights. this is all of course political
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science fiction. in practice, the priority will be to try to find the political solution. and i understand that is what many believe is behind all this. many believe that the polish constitutional accord is actually instructed by the polish government and that this is all a ploy for the polish government to increase its leverage. now, if you look at of course the history and if you look at other member states, you can see the polish constitutional court in 2005 has already issued a ruling where it declares the polish constitution to be superior to e.u. law. this time around, it's a lot more aggressive, you might say. if you look at the jurisprudence of the german constitutional court, since the 1970's, really,
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it has said that the german constitution is ultimately superior to e.u. law, and it has repeated this stance. however tolerating the fact that e.u. law is superior. the problem is that the e.u. treaty does not contain any content on this. this is all based on jurisprudence of the top e.u. court that declares that e.u. law is superior so this has been tolerated, de facto, by e.u. member states. at one point, when you have the top court of a member state and the government openly challenging this, then you have a problem. >> picking up on what peter was saying, about this being perhaps a ploy, how legitimate is poland's constitutional court? are we talking about government appointed ones?
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what does this mean for regular polish judges? what consequences do they face if they implement e.u. ma over polish law or vice versa? doesn't it put them in something of an impossible position? >> my comment to what my colleague said, actually, there is no conflict between the standard that is describing the polish constitution and the standard which is described in e.u. law, in treaties. the same standard for independence for judiciaries. only potential political conflict by our government. coming back to your question regarding this legitimacy of the constitutional court, this constitutional court is unlawfully composed. there are three illegal judges sitting in the panel of the
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constitutional court. it was already confirmed by the european court of humanights in july. the european court of human rights directly said that these constitutional courts with these three illegal judges is not the court in the meaning of european standard, so what will be the consequence of this verdict? i suppose that polish court, especially the supreme court, will ignore this veict. and polish@@ judges in the polih court will follow the judgments of the european court of justice. >> ok, but is that going to get them into any potential legal problems in poland? >> that is obvious. we have incredible -- in the polish system.
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such a verdict produces other conflicts and problems, but at the end of the day, i believe that polish courts and polish judges, which are really brave and really independent, and they are not afraid of consequences, even if they are softly repressed by the government with the disciplinary proceedings, with the criminal proceedings, with other forms. we have more than 150 proceedings against polish judges, repressions against polish judges. that is a serious problem. even though those judges are brave enough to issue independent verdicts, and as i said, at the end of the day, i believe that that verdict of the constitutional court will be ignored by polish courts and polish judges, who will follow the european law and the standards described by the european >> >> court of justice.
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this has been described as unprecedented, but is it? germany's constitutional court challenged the legal order when they found the european central bank overstepped its mandate,, o why is poland being criticized in a way that germany was not? are double standards at play here? >> it is not double standards because these are two different standards. but the supreme court in germany did what supreme court's do. they look at their constitution and see if what the executive is doing is backed by the constitution so the supreme court in germany warned the government that if we transform germany into something like a liability -- the united states of europe forum that is not backed by the constitution, we have to adapt the constitution so this is by no means a way to say goodbye to the european union and germany declares its
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independence. it's just to look into what do they say in germany? what the polish judges are asked to do by the government is to support their confrontational courts to create a situation which is very different. you cannot apply a little bit of the rule of law. it is like pregnancy. either you are pregnant or you are not. if they could apply for membership as a candidate with such a position, it would never become a member. now that they are in, i'm not really sure what my colleague from brussels said before that the nuclear option is purely political science fiction. if the confrontational force will be as confrontational as it sounds right now, this is the last option. >> has the commission gradually overstepped its remit? shouldn't sovereignty and differing national priorities be taken into account by the
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commission? >> yes, fundamentally. i think that there is a problem of the european union overstepping its powers. but here, i would not so much blame the commission. they are to blame, but ultimately, the european court of justice, which has been permitting this power overreach for years. a former german president has been warning for this. many other people. the question is more how do you solve it? the european court of justice says we respect their competences. lii believe an interesting creative way to solve it would be to subject the european court of justice to what i would call a subsidiary court. basically yet another court. intergovernmental court that would have very few cases but that basically would be responsible to sort out disputes
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on distribution of competency and whenever a government thinks the e.u. is overstepping its power and the european court of justice is permitting this, then only on this case will the new corp. able to overrule. so i think that would make it a lot more likely that you would not have this kind of differences in opinion and it's probably true that the government is exploiting this long lingering constitutional law problem to basically implement its judicial reforms. i agree that you could raise a lot of questions marks, especially if you see the situation with the government in such a broil with judges. that's a very unhealthy situation and we see similar
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tendencies all across central and eastern europe. >> what is your response to that? why is the polish government picking such a potentially dangerous fight with the e.u.? are the e.u. treaties simply unworkable across such a politically diverse bloc of countries? is it the e.u. that is out-of-state with member states and not the individual nations? >> first of all, my answer is the polish situation regarding violation of independence of judiciaries is black and white. it's absolutely obvious. all verdicts already issued by the european court of justice and human rights are saying, clearly, that the polish government has -- violates european law. violates these fundamental standards. one of them is independence of judiciary, protection of the rule of law.
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it is not the discussion between lawyers. it is not the conflict between lawyers even. this is an obvious situation. this is a conflict between law in violation of law. i was the participant, the representative of supreme court judges in these proceedings. in the european court -- in the european court in luxembourg. and i could see what was presented by the polish government, what was presented by the european commission and other countries which participate in these proceedings. this situation is black-and-white. we are, as the democrats, protecting them on the white position and the government is violating the rule of law. you would not imagine what is happening in poland every day
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with judges who are trying to implement directly european law, which are trying to ask the questions for a preliminary ruling to the european court of justice. they are simply repressed. adrian: it is black-and-white. victor or ron sign -- congolese president welcomed the ruling. he said the primacy of e.u. law should only apply in areas where the e.u. has competence. the framework for this is laid down in the e.u.'s founding treaties. constitutional courts and tribunals have every right to examine the scope and limits of e.u. competencies. he has a point, doesn't he? >> this is perfectly right and that is the very nature of the european union. on the one hand, the member states remain the masters of the process and they decide what competencies are european iced to what extent and this is written in that at the moment.
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the same with the founding treaties and other following treaties. that is the one side of the story. the other side of the story is the moment you european eyes law, this law supersedes over national law or any law. it does not matter if it is written in the constitution or if it is a convention or unwritten law. this is the only way to create a legal space in which law is equal to everyone so no one questions this. i also do not think that it is the core of the problem. it is a judicial one. the core of the problem is a political one because kitchen ski and the ruling party in poland and or bond, with his ruling party, simply dream of a different political system, which is not in line with what the european union defines as a requirement for membership in the european union. this is the collision course and not the question of if national judges agree with what has been
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ruled in luxembourg and so on. adrian: a recent dossier on respect for rule of law across the block expressed concerns about several countries, not talking just about poland and hungary here. democratic backsliding, as it has been called. what has changed politically since member states signed up to the treaties? how dangerous is it for the e.u.? what can the commission do about it? >> i think for a fact that there are problems with the rule of law in several e.u. member states. probably in every e.u. member stayed at the end of the day but definitely in a public -- problematic way. single out the new member state that entered in 2004. the reasons for that -- that's perhaps another debate. i don't think we should glorify
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how the situation was right after the fall of communism. in some cases, like in romania, the transition was not all that -- you can see the secret service continuing to play a role. for example, similar problems in bulgaria. the situation was much better in poland and hungary. a second question is what can the e.u., what can other member states do about all that? i think it's hard to easily end up in debates with double standards. people will say why are you going after poland and not after catalonia, for example? i think they should not send massive sums of money to oligarchs. adrian: we are almost out of time. i want to ask one quick question. you have a -- how dangerous is this for poland's government? is there a danger that people
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might get so fed up with them? >> it is a dangerous situation for poland and the polish government because as far as i can see, european institutions are consequent and the european commission decided to stop this crisis because it is not only our internal polish issue. it is the problem of the whole europe. if you do not stop this crisis in poland, it can be a domino effect. >> we are out of time. many thanks indeed to our guests. thank you for watching. don't forget you can see the program again at any time by going to the website at al jazeera.com. for further discussion, join us at our facebook page. and you can join the conversation on twitter.
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for me, adrian finighan, thank you for being with us. goodbye for now.
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