Reuters: The EU will increase pressure against Poland, after the country refused to fulfill European demands to stop it's judicial reform6 September 2017 | 21:33 | FOCUS News Agency
The nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government in Warsaw has pushed through reforms to the judiciary and media that critics within the EU say have weakened the democratic order.
PiS rejects the criticism, accuses Brussels of overstepping its mandate and says it has broad backing for its reforms within Poland, a country of 38 million and formerly communist eastern Europe’s dominant economy.
After more than a year of growing pressure from the European Commission, the executive on Wednesday asked the bloc’s 28 EU affairs ministers to discuss its concerns on Sept. 25, the day after national elections in Germany.
The Commission’s deputy head Frans Timmermans will brief the ministers on his so far futile efforts to persuade Warsaw to shift its position, the sources said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined the growing chorus of those calling for firmer action on Poland and discussed the matter with the Commission’s chief, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Should Warsaw remain adamant, it eventually risks losing generous EU handouts if it continues to upset its wealthier peers that chip in for the funds, a debate gradually heating up in the bloc.
For now, the EU has limited firepower at its disposal.
But it could trigger Article 7 proceedings under which it would ask the other 27 EU states to formally state that the rule of law was under threat in Poland - an action unprecedented in EU history.
Timmermans has set a clear red line by saying that Article 7 would be opened should Warsaw start to fire the country’s Supreme Court judges under the judicial overhaul.
The dispute highlights Warsaw’s growing isolation in the EU since the eurosceptic PiS won power there in 2015, but also a growing east-west divide within the bloc.
Launching Article 7 would be a major embarrassment for Poland, but its regional ally Hungary - whose leader Viktor Orban also has a track record of crossing swords with Brussels - has made clear it would block any sanctions against it under the punitive procedure.
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