Poland's rule of law puts EU in a double bind
Poland had to answer to the foreign ministers of the other EU states for the first time on Tuesday about its judicial reform. The hearing was part of the procedure initiated by the EU Commission against the government in Warsaw. Commentators describe the conundrum that this represents for the EU.
Don't alienate Poland now
The mood in Poland could swing even further against the EU if the approach is too tough, Rzeczpospolita warns:
“In recent years the EU's behaviour has turned a substantial group of traditionally pro-European countries into states that are critical of further integration. ... Before the Brexit referendum the EU, under pressure from Angela Merkel, rejected all David Cameron's demands on limiting immigration, which ultimately led to the Brexiteers' victory. ... The EU should learn from this painful experience and show as much flexibility as possible in the row with Poland. This is not the time to alienate yet another EU state - and certainly not one as important as Poland - unless absolutely necessary.”
Fragile democracies in Eastern Europe
Radio Europa Liberă explains why Brussels was reluctant for so long to tighten the screws on Warsaw:
“During the refugee crisis and the ongoing economic crisis the last thing the EU Commission wanted to do was alienate Eastern Europe's largest country, after all cooperation with Poland is essential when it comes to relations with Russia. If you factor in the authoritarian splintering off of Victor Orbán's Hungary and the fact that the Romanian ruling party (PSD) is also trying to take control of the judiciary, then we see how fragile the Eastern European democracies are almost three decades after the fall of Communism.”