Poland is facing a March deadline to roll back recent reforms that threaten judicial independence or face EU sanctions. So far there has been little headway with Warsaw insisting it will stand its ground.
After two years of dialogue, there has been no solution. Thus, last December the Commission recommended invoking Article 7 that could lead to the suspension of Poland's voting rights in the EU unless it concedes ground by March 20.
A week ago Thursday, the European Parliament voted 422 in favor to 147 against, with 48 abstentions, on a nonbinding resolution to support the Commission's action against the EU's largest former communist state.
It is unlikely that Poland will lose its EU voting rights because it would require unanimity among all other EU governments, and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, himself seen by the EU as weakening democratic checks and balances, has promised to block any such action against his Polish ally.
However, it would be politically very embarrassing for Poland if the EU ever comes to vote on sanctions, even with a Hungarian veto.
Another problem for Poland is that the dispute could also prompt member states to cut funds allocated to them in the next EU budget that runs from 2021. Poland is currently the biggest beneficiary of EU handouts for infrastructure and other projects.