EU urges Polish sanctions option over democratic backsliding

The European Union proposed disciplining Poland for failing to uphold the bloc’s democratic values, recommending an unprecedented process that could lead to economic sanctions and stripping the country of its voting rights.

The European Commission said Wednesday that the government in Warsaw posed a threat to the rule of law and recommended for the first time that member nations trigger Article 7 of the EU treaty.

It said reforms in the bloc’s biggest eastern economy put the country’s judiciary under the political control of the ruling majority.

“Despite repeated efforts, for almost two years, to engage the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue in the context of the Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland,” the Commission said Wednesday in statement on its website.

After years of juggling crises including Greece’s debt saga and the worst migration emergency since World War II, EU leaders are turning their attention to the rise of populist, eurosceptic forces that reject the bloc’s values.

With the decision, the Commission fired a shot across the bow of governments such as Hungary’s, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for rolling back the liberal, multi-cultural framework underpinning the world’s largest trading club.

The zloty was 0.2% weaker at 4.2079 against the euro after the Commission’s announcement.