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Leonid Bershidsky

How the EU Plans to Punish Hungary and Poland

Imposing sanctions may be easier said than done for the EU.

Will the EU withhold funds?

Will the EU withhold funds?

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

The governments of Poland and Hungary, accused of disrespecting the rule of law, have a powerful motive to wish populist parties a victory in this year’s European Parliament elections. Unless the next parliament rebels against the European Union's technocratic elite, the latter is likely to get effective tools to punish maverick nations financially.

The European Parliament voted on Thursday overwhelmingly to approve a report backing a European Commission proposal that the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, be allowed to withhold funding from countries found to be violating the rule of law. If adopted, the proposal breaks the current stalemate in relations between the EU and its rebellious member states which have moved toward illiberal and increasingly unaccountable government and increased the political control of the courts.