By the EU standards, Poland is no longer in breach of “the rule of law.” When the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, made this determination this month, she closed a long conflict between Warsaw and Brussels. It is now celebration time in both cities, but the dispute and its settlement leave a bitter aftertaste of undemocratic rule by judges, blackmailing by Brussels mandarins, and ideological double standards.

The rule-of-law dispute began with a national-conservative attempt at judicial reform in Poland seven years ago, and it would go on to cost Warsaw a great deal in energy and political capital. Poland, like Hungary, earned a reputation as a European pariah. The commission also blocked Polish access to the European funds the country could otherwise tap for internal development. But in February, a €140 billion ($152 billion) aid package was unblocked, and the latest announcement from the commission marks the formal closure of the EU dossier against Warsaw.

All it took was for the Poles to eject the national conservatives in favor of a more Brussels-compliant centrist government. Whether the new order in Poland actually guarantees the rule of law is a different question entirely.

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