ICJ welcomes EU Court of Justice ruling finding Poland violated independence of the judiciary, protection against gender-based discrimination

The ICJ welcomed today’s ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union finding that Poland violated the independence of the judiciary by lowering in 2017 the pension age of Polish judges and giving the power to maintain them in office to the Minister of Justice.

The Court also found that the new law creating widely disparate retirement ages between women and men who are ordinary court judges or prosecutors – 60 and 65 respectively – constituted unlawful discrimination

“The Court of Justice has upheld the cardinal principle of the rule of law that the terms of judges cannot be determined controlled on an ad hoc basis by political powers,” said Massimo Frigo, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

“This judgment confirms that these retirement laws were a direct blow to the principle of separation of powers, the bedrock of the rule of law,” he added.

The Court of Justice held as contrary to the principle of independence of the judiciary under article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU as series of laws lowering the age of retirement for ordinary judges, prosecutors and Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65 years for men and 65 to 60 for women. These laws allowed the Minister of Justice to decide which judges are to be reinstated.

“Poland should scrap these laws entirely and reinstate fully the situation of the judiciary prior to their enactment,” Frigo said.

“These laws were but a part of the systemic attack to the independence of the judiciary that the Polish government should stop,” he added.

The ICJ also called on Poland to bring the retirement ages of men and women back into parity.

The case was brought by the European Commission in an infringement proceeding against Poland for violation of the obligation to provide access to justice for EU law violations under article 19 TFEU.


Massimo Frigo, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme, t: +41 22 979 3805 ; e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org

More information on Massimo Frigo’s blog


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