The European Commission has launched unprecedented disciplinary proceedings against Poland over concerns that democracy in the country is under threat.
The executive branch of the European Union said on December 20 that Poland's planned judicial reforms, including on how judges are appointed, threaten the rule of law.
Under Article 7 of the EU treaty, member states must now decide by a four-fifths majority whether Poland is at "clear risk of a serious breach" of the bloc's rule-of-law principles.
However, the commission said it could rescind its decision if Warsaw implements a list of proposed remedies within three months.
Triggering Article 7 can lead to the suspension of a country's voting rights at the European Council if all 27 other EU countries agree, but Hungary has said it would veto such as move.
Thousands of people across Poland have protested against the planned reforms, which were passed by both chambers of Poland’s parliament.
President Andrzej Duda is yet to sign them into law.
The government of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party says the changes are needed to curb inefficiency and corruption.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL’s correspondent Rikard Jozwiak, dpa, Reuters, and the BBC