Article 7 ends: EU leader Ursula von der Leyen admits she brought down the Polish conservative government, says senior Polish MEP

The European Commission announced on Monday that it would drop its Article 7 sanctions procedure against Poland, ending a prolonged row with Warsaw over the rule of law

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

Ursula von der Leyen’s decision to end the Article 7 proceedings against Poland, when nothing has changed with regard to the issue of the rule of law, confirms that the whole dispute was about changing the government in Warsaw, says Senior Law and Justice (PiS) MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski.

The president of the European Commission announced on Monday that the EU would be ending the Article 7 proceedings action against Poland, instigated over Poland’s judicial reforms introduced by the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government.

MEP Saryusz-Wolski responded to the news in an interview with conservative news outlet, saying that “in legislative terms, nothing has changed, so this is simply a brazen confirmation that the commission wanted to influence the outcome of the Polish election in order to change the government. I’m surprised that she is so open about admitting it.”

In effect, the only thing that has changed in Poland is the government, and yet for years Poland was persecuted and punished for a situation that has not changed. Yet, the European Commission has ended the Article 7 procedure. The Polish MEP argues that the commission has interfered in the internal democratic process in a member state, something which the founding treaties forbid.

“The only real milestone for ending the commission’s action was a change of government,” he said.

Saryusz-Wolski further argues that the Article 7 procedure should have been ended a long time ago when it had become obvious there was no majority in the European Council to enforce it. He called the commission’s persistence in maintaining it “humbug.”

The problem Saryusz-Wolski sees is that there seems to be no appeal procedure against the commission’s actions since the European Court of Justice is ideologically committed to increasing the powers of the commission at every turn. The only way of holding the European Commission to account is through the member states and the elections to the European Parliament, so Jacek Saryusz-Wolski urges all to participate to “end the lawlessness” that has occurred. 

“Sanctions against Poland were lifted as soon as the government changed. If voters want a sovereign Poland, they should not back those who not only backed but also asked for these sanctions to be enforced and benefitted from that in the last Polish parliamentary elections,” concludes the senior Polish MEP. 

The European Commission in December 2017 decided to trigger for the first time in its history the Article 7 section of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over changes to the judicial system by the country’s conservative government at the time. The move came after the Polish government introduced reforms that the EU’s top court found violated so-called rule-of-law standards. The Article 7 sanctions procedure could see a country lose its voting rights in the European Union, but so far no Article 7 procedure has ever been successful, including the current one still open against Hungary.

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