In 2016, the European Union had to decide what to do when a member no longer wants to be a member. At the end of 2017, it had to decide how to handle a member that is not behaving as it believes a member should. The Polish government, says the European Commission, has through a series of judiciary reforms breached fundamental EU values, including the rule of law. And on Dec. 20, the commission took the unprecedented step of invoking Article 7.
Once Article 7 is triggered, its target is subjected to increasingly severe disciplinary measures unless and until it acquiesces. One of the early penalties is the suspension of EU funding to the offending state. By the end of the process, the member state is at risk of losing its voting rights in the European Council. If fully applied, Article 7 would effectively deprive Poland of the rights of EU membership.
In Poland’s case, the process is unlikely to get that far, not least because to get there would require consens