Brussels urges EU leaders to push ahead with Poland censure
The European Commission on Thursday urged EU leaders to press forward with disciplinary action against Poland for allegedly violating rule-of-law standards, EU diplomats said.
In December, the Commission launched an Article 7 disciplinary process, which, in theory, could lead to suspension of Polandâs EU voting rights. Brussels is pushing Warsaw to reverse controversial changes to its judicial system that Brussels says undermine the independence of judges and the courts. One of the more controversial changes, to force out many judges, is set to take effect on July 3.
The Commission has been debating whether to push forward with the Article 7 process, with Secretary-General Martin Selmayr advocating a more pragmatic approach and First Vice President Frans Timmermans insisting that Brussels must stand its ground.
Hungary, an ally of Poland, has pledged to block a suspension of voting rights, which requires unanimous approval by the other EU nations. On Thursday, the Commission urged EU ministers to schedule a hearing in the Article 7 case â" a move that would force an airing of the charges against Poland and force the countryâs governing Law and Justice Party to defend itself.
The Commission made the request at a meeting with representatives of the EUâs member governments, diplomats said. A decision on whether to go ahead is expected at a meeting of the EUâs General Affairs Council later this month.
The Commission did not discuss the Poland issue at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, though the matter was on the agenda. The decision to ask for a hearing seemed to reflect a consensus in support of Timmermansâ view that Poland has simply not made sufficient concessions to warrant the EU easing the pressure, let alone ending the Article 7 procedure.
The Polish government has made clear it thinks it has done enough t o address the Commissionâs concerns.
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