EU’s New Weapon in Rule-of-Law Battle With Poland, Hungary: Money

BRUSSELS—The European Union has begun withholding funds from Poland and Hungary, escalating the battle in excess of democratic criteria that is deepening the East-West divide in the bloc.

The EU and most governments in its Western location are concerned about lawful alterations by Poland and Hungary that they consider are eroding the rule of legislation, weakening judicial independence, and breaching human rights. They are notably alarmed by an hard work by Warsaw to assert the primacy of Polish legislation in excess of EU legislation and court choices.

The two nations, which are amid the biggest internet recipients of European dollars, say the strain from Brussels signifies an ideological attack on their values and an endeavor by unelected officials to curtail the rights of member international locations to shape their individual political programs and regulations.

The EU has experienced disputes for years with Poland and Hungary in excess of challenges these as homosexual rights, which are very hot-button topics in a lot of previous communist international locations. Conservative voters and politicians in the location have argued that due to the fact becoming a member of the bloc in 2004, Brussels has significantly made use of its powers to impose Western European social values in excess of neighborhood norms.

The European Commission’s fight with Poland in excess of judicial independence is individual from these disputes. Brussels officials argue that Poland’s efforts to disregard EU court choices and problem legislation could established precedents that undermine bloc-broad rules—such as these governing the single market—and defang the supranational courts that law enforcement EU legislation.