Poland broke European Union law with its 2017 judicial overhaul the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.
The ECJ said Poland failed in its judicial reform efforts by establishing a different retirement age for men (65) and women judges (60); in addition, the reform unlawfully lowered the retirement age of ordinary court judges and conferred on the Minister for Justice the power to extend their active service.
“Independence requires that the court concerned exercise its functions wholly autonomously and in an impartial manner,” the ECJ said.
In a previous ruling in June, the ECJ ruled that Poland’s forced retirement of one-third of its Supreme Court judges was also unlawful.
Poland’s foreign ministry issued a statement underplaying the significance of the ECJ ruling, as it to the 2017 reform package that has been revoked and, therefore, the ruling has no practical significance.
However, Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party continues to argue that the judicial system is in need of a lustration campaign as it is inefficient and sometimes corrupt. Days before winning reelection in October, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told a conservative newspaper that his party will press on with changes to the judiciary.