Exclusive German Politicians Wary Amid E.U. Probe of Poland

The European Commission on Wednesday launched an investigation into Poland, an eastern member state that has seen relations sour with its European neighbors, including Germany, since the election of a far-right party towards the end of last year . The E.U.’s executive arm is targeting a controversial new Polish media law that, among other things, gives the government more control over public broadcasters, as well as moves to limit the power of the country’s Constitutional Tribunal. It marks the first time the Commission has used special new powers allowing it to investigate specific laws in other countries. In the most extreme case, it could recommend Poland’s voting rights in the European Union be suspended. A number of European politicians had called for Brussels to step in, arguing the new laws amount to an authoritarian turn by the country’s Law and Justice Party, which returned to power in October , this time with an absolute majority, after eight years in opposition. German policymakers have stayed comparatively neutral on what to do about their eastern neighbor. Norbert Röttgen, head of the foreign policy committee of the German parliament, warned that the European Union’s actions could alienate Poland. “Our motto should be: Speak rather than threaten,” Mr. Röttgen told the German news agency DPA, follows news of the commission’s decision. “Everything that pulls us apart and divides us should be avoided, especially in the current difficult situation the E.U. finds itself in,” he added. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament and a former German minister, has been less diplomatic. He has said Poland’s actions amount to a “Putinization” of the country. Relations between Berlin and Warsaw have become tense in recent weeks, with the German ambassador summoned over objections to German politicians’ comments.