EU update: Poland warned over new media law

 •  Filed under EU

An EU Commissioner is saying that Poland is ignoring common European values.

(But I think my earlier post showing that there are no common values stands.)

The media law was passed: "The bill terminates the tenure of the current management of public TV and radio broadcasters and gives PiS the right to directly appoint its own people. It also limits the number of independent supervisory board members. ... Five of Europe’s biggest journalist groups, one day earlier, said: “If the Polish parliament passes these measures … Poland will create a regressive regime which will be without precedent in any other EU country.”"

The FT reports today that Orban promises to veto any EU sanctions against Poland.

Ahead of the formal debate on the situation in Poland, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has "indicated he will avoid confrontation with Poland over its constitutional and media shake-up." The Dutch EU commissioner sent "two letters to Warsaw asking for details."

[Timmermans] added that one of the EU’s biggest achievements is helping former Communist “dictatorships” in eastern Europe to become “fully fledged democracies." “It is only just that the commission will take this up [rule-of-law monitoring] with every member state,” he said.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, also downplayed prospects of article 7. He referred to the measure as being “almost nuclear, politically.” He said in the past the EU had the choice either to do nothing or to invoke the article.

Options for sanctions?

The second Article of the Lisbon Treaty appears to be simply too broad:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Two years ago, the EU presented a framework for "addressing systemic threats to the rule of law in any of the EU's 28 Member States.":

The initiative comes after the College of Commissioners held two orientation debates on the rule of law on 28 August 2013 and on 25 February 2014, which concluded that there is a need to develop a tool to deal, at EU level, with systemic threats to the rule of law. The new rule of law framework will be complementary to infringement procedures - when EU law has been breached – and to the so-called 'Article 7 procedure' of the Lisbon Treaty which, at its most severe, allows for the suspension of voting rights in case of a "serious and persistent breach" of EU values by a Member State.

Michal Horvath criticized the system for "being binary": "[we need something] between effectively nothing and the nuclear option", he tweeted.