Judicial rules found unlawful by EU court no longer in force: Polish foreign ministry

A ruling by the European Union’s top court that Poland broke EU law by lowering the retirement age for judges refers to regulations that are no longer in force, the Polish foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Warsaw

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in WarsawPhoto: Tymon Markowski/MSZ

The European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that Poland broke European Union law with its 2017 judicial overhaul that lowered the retirement age for judges and introduced a different retirement age for men and women in the profession.

The Polish foreign ministry said in a statement that the ruling by the top EU court refers to a historical state of play and does not reflect the current regulations.

The Polish foreign ministry added that the ruling, in a case started against Poland by the European Commission, would be the subject of detailed analysis.

According to the European Court of Justice, Poland “failed to fulfill its obligations under EU law, first, by establishing a different retirement age for men and women who were judges or public prosecutors in Poland and, second, by lowering the retirement age of judges of the ordinary courts while conferring on the Minister for Justice the power to extend the period of active service of those judges.”

The Polish foreign ministry said in its statement that the country had already addressed the European Commission’s concerns by revising a law on the structure of ordinary courts, by means of an amendment dated April 12, 2018.

Under this amendment, the retirement age of judges has been equalised for men and women and the power to extend the period of active service of judges was transferred to the National Council of the Judiciary, the Polish foreign ministry said.

It added that the European Commission should have withdrawn its complaint once the amendment entered into force.

“There is no justification for the complaint not being withdrawn,” the Polish foreign ministry also said in its statement.

In a previous ruling, the EU Court of Justice said in June that an overhaul of Poland’s judicial system that forced a third of its Supreme Court judges into early retirement was unlawful.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at the time that ruling by the European Union’s top court had „no practical significance” because the country has since reversed the move.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in late 2015, has argued that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system marred by communist holdovers.

Poland’s prime minister said in January that some of the legal changes made by his conservative government have met with criticism abroad because they are not understood in Western Europe.

(gs)

Source: IAR, gov.pl

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