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Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.

  • "But it's not granted," he continued in Friday's interview. "Thus, Brussels must react strongly.
  • "We are determined to use the best efficient tools at our disposal to put pressure, but… we don’t have the same timeline as Twitter."

Driving the news: A ruling from Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists of the populist ruling party, Law and Justice — gave Polish law precedence over EU law in some cases, challenging one of the bloc's fundamental principles.

  • Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has also repeatedly stuck his finger in the eye of Brussels while eroding his country’s democratic institutions.
  • Because the EU operates by consensus, each can block attempts to punish (or expel) the other.

Yes, but: The EU now has a new tool that ties COVID recovery funding to respect for the rule of law in member states.

  • Hungary and Poland are challenging that rule in the courts, recognizing that they stand to lose billions of euros.
  • Reynders said a decision on whether to trigger it will come soon.

Meanwhile, Orbán will face a united opposition for the first time in elections next spring after an unprecedented primary election made center-right mayor Peter Márki-Zay the consensus pick of all six major opposition parties.

  • And in Poland, tens of thousands of people gathered last weekend to demonstrate against the court’s ruling and in favor of the EU.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - World

U.S., EU, U.K. and Canada impose new sanctions on Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Grodno in November. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada imposed a new round of coordinated sanctions on Belarus "to raise the cost on Alyaksandr Lukashenko and his regime," Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday.

Why it matters: They are the first sanctions since EU officials accused Lukashenko of waging "hybrid warfare" by allowing thousands of migrants to travel from the Middle East to Minsk and then forcing them to Poland's border.

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.