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European Union sues Poland for undermining independence of courts

Reuters | | Updated on: Sep 24, 2018

The European Union sued Poland on Monday in the EU's highest court over its ruling party's changes to the judiciary, which the bloc believes violates the independence of the courts.

“The European Commission maintains that the Polish law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with EU law as it undermines the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges,” the EU's executive Commission said in announcing the move.

The new Polish law lowers the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65 years, putting 27 out of 72 sitting judges at risk of being forced to retire. The mandate of the head of the Supreme Court would be prematurely terminated.

The Commission asked the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice to suspend the application of the law until it reaches a verdict to prevent the forced retirement of the judges and the appointment of new ones in their place.

Poland was suspended last Monday from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), which decided the Polish council is no longer independent because it is now appointed by politicians, rather than judges as before. Poland's situation echoes that of Hungary, which the European Parliament sanctioned earlier this month for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption.

Published on September 24, 2018

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