After two years of uneasiness by the European Union about the state of affairs in Poland and the governance of the country by the Law and Justice party and President Andrzej Duda, the EU has pulled the trigger on Article 7. But as is the case with firearms, you may pull the trigger, but the bullet might not even exit the barrel.

The decision to begin the process that will lead to the activation of Article 7 was announced on December 20th, 2017. A tweet by Frans Timmermans‏, the Vice President of the European Commission, set the foreboding tone.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have activated Article 7(1). But the facts leave us with no choice. We have no other option. This is not just about Poland, it is about the EU as a whole. We continue to hope that we can enter into a more fruitful dialogue.”

Article 7 is the so-called nuclear option. Its purpose is to rebuke Poland and it might end up suspending its voting rights. If Article 7 is eventually implemented, it will be the first time.