Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, said, “This is a crucial phase in European integration, because if we prove to be unable to get all member state governments to respect E.U. law, then the whole thing will disintegrate.”
“We have to somehow break this deadlock” with Hungary and Poland, she added.
Last year, the commission blocked funding to several municipalities in Poland that had declared themselves “L.G.B.T. free.” The commission also started legal action against Poland on the grounds that such zones were contrary to E.U. values. This month, the commission sent a letter to governors of those regions saying that it was postponing further funding of around 130 million euros, or about $150 million.
The efforts appear to be having an effect: On Wednesday, the Polish Press Agency reported that one of the targeted regions was withdrawing its L.G.B.T.-free declaration because of the withholding of European funds.
Didier Reynders, the European Union’s justice commissioner, said in a recent interview that the bloc’s goal was to “install a real culture of the rule of law.” The democratic backsliding in Poland and Hungary is an opportunity to draw attention to the rule of law in all member states, he added.
To counter any accusations of double standards, the commission recently started evaluating the democratic standards of all member nations. But in countries where violations are more systemic, the reports have had little effect.
Poland drastically escalated the conflict in July by refusing to implement two decisions of the bloc’s top court effectively ordering the dismantling of a disciplinary “chamber” that critics say has been used by the country’s government to intimidate judges not to its liking.