Poland law reforms 'break EU law' says European Court of Justice

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By Alastair Jamieson
The ECJ said Poland's changes were contrary to EU law.
The ECJ said Poland's changes were contrary to EU law.

Poland's lowering of the retirement age of Supreme Court judges is “contrary to EU law” and breaches the principles of judicial independence, the European Court of Justice ruled on Monday.

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party government pushed through a range of reforms after coming to power in 2015 that rights groups and the European Commission said threatened the rule of law and increased the government’s control over Polish courts.

It allowed the government to force out some judges and replace them with its own appointees, chosen by the National Council of the Judiciary, which had also earlier been dominated by the ruling party.

The retirement age for judges of the common law courts, public prosecutors, and judges of the Supreme Court to 60 for women and 65 for men from 67 for both.

PiS argued the changes were needed to improve the efficiency of the courts but the EC sued Poland.

The change is “not justified by a legitimate objective and undermines the principle of the irremovability of judges, that principle being essential to their independence,” the ECJ said in its judgement.

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