The Polish government breached European Union law when it lowered the retirement age of its Supreme Court judges, harming their independence, the E.U.’s top court ruled Monday.
In October, the European Commission took Warsaw to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for cutting the age at which judges are required to retire from 70 to 65.
“The Polish legislation concerning the lowering of the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court is contrary to E.U. law,” the ECJ ruled Monday.
“The measures at issue breach the principles of the irremovability of judges and judicial independence,” the Luxembourg-based court wrote.
Last year, Poland’s right-wing government suspended retirements in order to comply with an interim ruling from the court in Luxembourg.
— Alice Stollmeyer (@StollmeyerEU) June 24, 2019
Poland is required now to comply with Monday’s judgement without delay.
If the European Commission, the 28-nation E.U.’s executive arm, finds Poland has failed to comply with the ruling, it may bring a further case seeking financial penalties, the court said.
The commission has been locked in a bitter battle over sweeping judicial changes introduced by Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) government since it took office in 2015.
The showdown has led the E.U. to trigger unprecedented proceedings against Warsaw over alleged “systemic threats” to the rule of law that could eventually see its E.U. voting rights suspended.