European Commission launches case against Poland over judicial reform

The European Commission has launched legal action against Poland over its new law giving the government more control over judges. The procedure could result in Poland losing its voting rights in the bloc.

The decision to start the so-called “infringement procedure” against Warsaw was taken on Wednesday, the European Commission said in a Saturday statement. Poland was given a month to respond.

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“The new rules allow the minister of justice to exert influence on individual ordinary judges through, in particular, the vague criteria for the prolongation of their mandates thereby undermining the principle of irremovability of judges,” the statement reads.

Another major legal concern was the different retirement ages for female (60) and male (65) judges, Reuters reported.

On Friday, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans sent a letter to Poland’s foreign minister inviting him and the country’s justice minister to meet in Brussels to discuss the issue.

Earlier this week, Timmermans warned that the European Commission could act on Article 7 of the EU treaty, suspending Poland’s EU voting rights, if Warsaw proceeds with the law.

The European Commission’s action comes despite Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoing two bills giving the government the power to appoint Supreme Court judges on Tuesday. However, he signed into law the bill on ordinary courts.