EU Court of Justice rules on Polish law forcing retirement of judges

Commenting on the ruling, Poland's Foreign Ministry said it concerned a past state of affairs and does not reflect the now binding regulations. /PAP/EPA

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled on Tuesday that Polish laws relating to the retirement age of judges and public prosecutors, adopted in July 2017, are contrary to EU law.

In Tuesday’s judgment the Court, upheld the action for failure to fulfil obligations brought by the Commission against Poland and held that as a member state it had failed to fulfil 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 common courts while conferring on the Minister for Justice the power to extend the period of active service of those judges.

The court ruled that Polish judicial reforms aimed at lowering the retirement age of common court judges were in violation of fundamental EU values concerning the rule of law.

"Independence requires that the court concerned exercise its functions wholly autonomously and in an impartial manner," the court said.

The reforms had lowered the age of retirement for women to 60 and for men to 65 from the previous 67 years for both sexes. Since 2017, Poland has changed the regulations in question.

Commenting on the ruling, Poland's Foreign Ministry said it concerned a past state of affairs and does not reflect the now binding regulations.

The ministry, in a press release sent to PAP, added that the European Commission's earlier complaint had been taken into account in the April 12, 2018, amendment to the law on common courts.

Earlier this year, the CJEU passed a similar ruling concerning the retirement age of Poland's Supreme Court judges.