The EU Court of Justice finds that Polish rules relating to the retirement age of judges and public prosecutors go against the rule of law and the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women
The Committee for the Respect of the Rule of Law European Citizens Initiative
welcomes today's Court of Justice ruling deeming contrary to EU law the Polish rules relating to the retirement age of judges and public prosecutors adopted in July 2017.
The case was brought forward by the European Commission against Poland as an action for failure to fulfil obligations under Article 258 TFEU. The Court agreed with the Commission that Poland had failed to fulfil:
- its obligations with regards to the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal pay under Article 157 TFEU and Directive 2006/54/EC;
- its obligations to provide remedies sufficient to ensure for individuals compliance with their right to effective judicial protection in the fields covered by EU law under the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU in conjunction with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Right to an effective remedy).
The facts of the case: a Polish law of 12 July 2017 lowered the retirement age of judges of the ordinary courts and public prosecutors, and the age for early retirement of judges of the Supreme Court to 60 years for women and 65 years for men, whereas those ages were previously set at 67 years for both sexes. In addition, that law conferred on the Minister for Justice the power to extend the period of active service of judges of the ordinary courts beyond the new retirement ages thus set, which differ according to sex.
The Court, recalling its previous case-law, declared that Article 19 TEU "gives concrete expression to the value of the rule of law" as it "entrusts the responsibility for ensuring the full application of EU law in all Member States and the judicial protection that individuals derive from EU law to national courts and tribunals and to the Court of Justice". As Polish courts may be called upon to rule on questions connected with EU law they must therefore meet the requirements inherent in such protection including the principles of impartiality and the principle of irremovability which, the Court found, were not respected by the Polish law.
The Court of Justice is expected to rule shortly on another case
relating to the aforementioned Polish law, specifically on whether lowering the retirement age of judges could also constitute discrimination on grounds of age
against Directive 2000/78, in conjunction with Articles 21 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Case C-668/18 - Request for a preliminary ruling from the Sad Najwyzszy (Poland) lodged on 26 October 2018 — BP v UNIPARTS sàrl)
The promoters of the European Citizens Initiative for the Respect of the Rule of La
w, Pier Virgilio Dastoli (Movimento Europeo) and Marco Cappato (Eumans and Science for Democracy), invite organisations and individuals that are expressing support to the Court of Justice decision to join the European mobilization to ask for an objective general legislation making it possible to verify in an objective manner the practical application of the rule of law in the different member states
. Doing so the mutual trust between the Member State will be strengthened and nurtured.