European Commission's Poland Probe: The Way Forward to Uphold the Rule of Law in EU Member States?

Laurent Pech

On 13 January 2016, the College of Commissioners held a first orientation debate in order to assess the situation in Poland under the Rule of Law Framework adopted in March 2014. This framework aims to enable the Commission to address, in a preventive manner, systemic threats to the rule of law in any of the EU's 28 Member States. This new instrument had not been triggered despite the European Parliament's repeated calls to do so in relation to Hungary. This paper will first offer an abstract examination of the main features of the Commission's rule of law framework and assess its shortcomings in the light of the other instruments available to the Commission or adopted by other EU institutions. The paper will then explain why the Commission decided to trigger its rule of law framework when it has not done so with respect to Hungary and what lessons could be drawn from its first application with respect to Poland.

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