"We welcome this decision, which shows a determination to defend the European democratic model," said Julie Majerczak, RSF's representative in Brussels. "After two years of a dialogue of the deaf between Brussels and Warsaw, triggering the Article 7 procedure was essential.
"The Polish government has to understand that it cannot trample on European values and threaten democracy with impunity. We nonetheless regret that the Commission is only addressing the judicial issues and is ignoring the ultra-conservative PiS government's attacks on the media."
The situation in Poland is alarming. As well as adopting judicial reforms that are liable to eliminate all judicial independence, the Polish authorities have been taking measures that threaten all checks and balances and fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of the press.
After bringing the state media under its direct control, the government has been taking action to intimidate independent journalists who dare to criticize its policies, and has been trying to throttle critical media outlets by imposing astronomic fines on them.
"These attacks cannot go unanswered," said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF's EU-Balkans desk. "This European Union measure should not be limited to Poland's judicial reforms but should include the violations of all the European values cited in Article 2. The EU must reject the Polish government's entire anti-democratic agenda."
Poland is ranked 54th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, seven places lower than in the 2016 index, in which it suffered a spectacular 29-place fall.