Article 2 of EU treaty demands countries in the EU Promote and Safeguard European Values Article 7 is a sanctions procedure that the EU can impose on countries the EU deems to have violated Article 2. Article 7 has never been used.
Sanctions include removal of voting rights.
Poland has irked the EU because of judicial reforms the EU does not agree with, and also because Poland (along with Hungary and the Czech republic) refuses to accept migrants.
Germany and France Back Article 7 Proceedings
The European Union's executive Commission will likely decide next week to trigger an unprecedented procedure against Poland that could move the country closer to losing its voting rights in the EU, a top official said Friday.
The move would involve a formal warning to Poland that it sees a "clear risk of a serious breach" of European values in new bills that overhaul the judicial system.
Poland's new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tried to persuade leaders at an EU summit in Brussels ending Friday that the bills do not violate democratic values.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron voiced hopes that the step won't be necessary, but vowed to back the Commission if it comes to that.
Merkel's Last Stand
Poland and the rest of the Visigrad Four – Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – are headed for a collision course with the rest of Western Europe.
Invoking Article 7 will eventually allow the European Parliament to rescind all economic aid to Poland and its voting rights within the body. While at that same time not allowing Poland free access to international trade because it will not be an independent nation at that point.
Any move to extricate itself from the EU politically or practically will be met with the most strident opposition. Look no further than Brexit talks and the brutal put-down of Catalonia’s independence movement to see Poland’s future.
The first step is a political reprimand. But, the problem for Merkel and the EU in general is that Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is more popular than ever thanks to its opposition to her nonsense.
The same thing is happening across all of Eastern Europe. The Czechs just elected their version of Donald Trump, Andrej Babis. The Austrians put together a coalition government this week comprised of the two most anti-immigration parties in the country.
And their new Foreign Minister wasn’t on the job more than a couple of days before publicly declaring Austria would be ending its economic sanctions against Russia which have been in place since 2014 over Russia’s reunification with Crimea.
I wonder how well that’s going to go over the next time the council of EU Foreign Ministers gets together. EU sanctions require unanimity or the measure is rescinded.
Voting weights are set according to the Nice treaty. Some changes also require a certain percentage of the population to approve.
Many changes require unanimous approval. To exercise Article 7, every country but Poland would have to agree.
One Problem (And It's a Big One)
There is one fly in the ointment for EU officials regarding Poland.
Backed by Germany and France, the EU’s executive arm is likely to recommend activating a European Treaty article that would bring Poland a step closer to losing its voting rights, Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Friday.
Imposing sanctions would require unanimous support from the bloc’s other 27 countries, which is unlikely as Hungary has vowed to back Poland. As the standoff escalates, EU officials are separately working on limiting access to EU funds for countries that disrespect the bloc’s values, which could harm Poland -- the biggest net beneficiary from its budget.
“There is much that suggests Article 7 will be triggered for the first time,” Oettinger told Deutschlandfunk public radio.
One of the major design flaws in the EU treaty is that it takes unanimous consent to do much of anything meaningful.
Trade treaties (with some exceptions) require unanimous approval. Sanctions also require unanimous consent, as does a change to the EU treaty itself.
Austria is going to single-handedly remove EU sanctions on Russia. Hungary will stop Article 7 against Poland.
Last week, the EU referred Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the European Court of Justice for refusal to take in refugees.
Good luck with that. There is nothing the EU can do about these issues as long as two countries have the same position.
In the case of refugees, there is a block of three countries all willing to tell the EU "Go to hell."
Mike "Mish" Shedlock