EU court orders Poland to suspend Supreme Court retirements

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Luxembourg (AFP)

The EU's top court on Monday upheld a ruling ordering Warsaw to suspend a law lowering the retirement age of its Supreme Court judges amid concerns about Poland's judicial independence.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) had ordered Poland on October 19 to suspend the law before finalising the "interim measure" on Monday.

"Poland must immediately suspend the application of the provisions of national legislation relating to the lowering of the retirement age for Supreme Court judges," the ECJ said in a statement.

"The pleas of fact and law raised by the (European) Commission justify granting interim measures," the Luxembourg-based court said.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, has been locked in a bitter battle over sweeping judicial changes introduced by Poland's rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) government since it took office in 2015.

The showdown has led the EU to trigger unprecedented proceedings against Poland over "systemic threats" to the rule of law that could eventually see its EU voting rights suspended.

In early October, the Commission took Poland's government to the ECJ for lowering the age at which Supreme Court judges must retire from 70 to 65.

On October 19, the court ordered Poland to suspend the law "pending the making of an order closing the interim proceedings".

The court, which upheld the interim measures on Monday, is expected to make a permanent decision in the case next year.

On November 21, Poland's parliament bowed to the EU court ruling. But the legislation reversing the Supreme Court retirement law has not yet been promulgated.

Under Polish law, President Andrzej Duda has until midnight Monday to sign the legislation into law.