How Is Poland Disrupting The European Union?


Since Poland’s most recent election in late
2015, rapid and potentially unconstitutional changes have created severe tensions within
the European Union. The new conservative, anti-EU ruling party in Poland has already
been faced with threats of sanctions and a loss of voting power. So, what exactly did
Poland do? And why is it alarming the EU? Well, to put Poland in perspective, it is
the largest economy in Central Europe. Joining the EU marked an important transition for
the the country, away from their authoritarian communist past. However, following several
years of coalition efforts between liberal and conservative parties, in October 2015,
the right wing Law and Justice party won a majority in parliament. This was the first
time a single party held majority power since the country restored democracy in 1989. Immediately after gaining control, the party
pushed through a number of changes. First, they dismissed and replaced five recently
appointed Constitutional judges. Soon after, they passed a law reorganizing the Constitutional
Court, forcing a two-thirds majority for changes. This directly conflicts with the Constitutional
requirement of a simple majority. That made it considerably more difficult to change new
legislation passed by the Law and Justice controlled parliament . Poland also passed a new media law, which
replaced the administration of the nation’s public television and radio broadcasters with
a former Law and Justice member of parliament. This series of new laws was quickly met with
opposition from the Polish public, with tens of thousands of citizens protesting in December
of 2015. Moreover, the President of the European Parliament referred to this shift as being
similar to a “coup”. Other members of the EU have discussed imposing sanctions on
Poland. However, neighboring Hungary has dismissed the possibility, as they would refuse to take
part in a unanimous vote to sanction. This is particularly important, as Hungary has
also come under fire in recent years for its own media restructuring laws, which many say
mirror Poland’s current crisis. The strongest rebuke has come from Germany;
As Poland’s largest trading partner, it accounts for nearly a quarter of both exports
and imports. In response, Polish media has compared German Chancellor [An-guh-la] Merkel
to Adolf Hitler, suggesting that Germany is seeking to control Poland as they did in World
War Two. By early January 2016, the European Commission began an investigation on the basis
of Article 7 of the Treaty of Lisbon. This states that if a member of the EU seriously
breaches the union’s values, they can be stripped of their voting rights. As the controversy continues, it is likely
that the EU will take action, either legal or diplomatic, to end what is considered Poland’s
violation of constitutional balance. With Poland’s parliament currently unopposed,
the Law and Justice party may be ushering in a new conservative era in Polish politics. What happens in Poland has the ability to
shift the balance of the European Union, largely due to their economic and political influence.
To find out just how powerful Poland is, check out our video. Thanks for watching Test Tube
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