Brussels is finally worried about authoritarism in Poland, three months after its new government was formed. The European Commission announced on Wednesday the launch of a “preliminary assessment” on whether Warsaw is undermining the Rule of Law in the country.
For the first time in EU history, Brussels has opened an assessment to decide if the Rule of Law is Poland is at stake. EC First Vicepresident, Frans Timmermans, has asked for “cooperation” with Polish government, although the dialogue since now has not been successful.
According to EU law, next steps are now starting a dialogue with Poland, assessing the government and to establish recommendations. Ultimately, the Commission could activate Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, which could lead the country to a suspension of EU voting rights.
The Commission is also waiting for the Council of Europe assessment, to be published in March. After that, the College of Comissioners will decide. Timmermans has already sent three letters to Warsaw in order to solve the crisis, but the replies since now have not been successful enough for Brussels.
With a strong support in the country, the ultra-conservative Polish government has adopted two controversial laws that has sent alarm signs in Brussels. The reforms on the Constitutional Court, appointing five new judges with closed ties with the ruling party; and selecting new journalist to lead public media.
Brussels has raised much more concern with Warsaw that with Viktor Orban, Hungarian prime Minister. Orban is, afterall from the European Popular Party, the largest group in the European Parliament. Justice and Law, the ruling party in Poland is on the Conservatives and Reformists group. The president of the institution, Martin Schulz, alerted on German media on what he considered a “directed democracy” inspired on Vladimir Putin’s government.
Comissioner Günther Oettinger, also Germany, critised the new government and CDU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party has already supported the decision of European Commission. Due to this comments, Polish authorites recall German ambassador for consultations, with no more consequences. However, with the new government in Warsaw, the relations with Berlin might no be as they used to in the past.