EU leaders lambast Poland over its challenge to union

An EU summit in Brussels on Thursday was overshadowed by a squabble over what to do about Poland.

This month, the country's constitutional court ruled that elements of EU law were incompatible with the country's charter.

The move challenges a central tenet of EU integration and some leaders want Poland to face strong repercussions, including financial penalties.

Here are the leaders of the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium:

"I think we have to be tough but the question is how do you get there?"

"We believe politically we've all made choices in terms of being fully part of the European family in spirit and well as in the letter of that and we are extremely disappointed with developments..."

"If you want to be part of a club, and if you want to have the advantages of being in a club -- and they are clear to everyone, including the Polish people -- then you need to respect the rules."

But Poland's Prime Minister remains defiant and says he won't be blackmailed by the EU. He also has the backing of Hungary.

"Poland? The best country in Europe. There is no need to have any sanction, it's ridiculous."

The European Commission has for now barred Warsaw from tapping into the 36 billion euros of grants and loans it requested from EU funds to help it recover from the health crisis.

On top of this, the dispute risks precipitating a new fundamental crisis for the bloc which is still grappling with the aftermath of Brexit.

Though any fears of a so-called Polexit can, for now, be put aside.

Popular support for EU membership remains at 88% in Poland.

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