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EU: European Commission refers Poland to Court of Justice “to protect the judges’ independence”

(Brussels) “The Polish law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with the EU law, since it breaches the principle of judicial independence, mainly making judges non removable from office”: this has been stated by the EU Commission, which added that Poland, “in doing so, is breaching the requirements laid down by Article 19, paragraph 1, of the EU Treaty, jointly with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights”. So, the EU Executive decided to refer Poland to the EU Court of Justice “for breaching the principle of judicial independence through the new national law on the Supreme Court, and ask the Court of Justice to issue precautionary measures until a ruling is produced”. Poland’s new law reduces retirement age for judges of the Supreme Court from 70 to 65 years of age, so that 27 of the 72 incumbent judges might officially have to retire. Such measure – a notice explains – also applies to the first president of the Supreme Court, so the six-year office established by the Polish Constitution would be terminated earlier”. “Enforced on April 3rd 2018, such law enables judges concerned by a reduction in retirement age to ask the President of the Republic to extend their office, and such extension may be granted for a further three-year term, renewable just once. The president’s decision is not conditional on any clear requirement and, if the application is turned down, it cannot be legally challenged”. The EU Commission had asked the Polish authorities for two “warning” notices, one in July and one in August: “on both occasions, the Polish authorities’ answer did not dispel the EU Commission’s concerns”.

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