Following a ruling by European Court of Justice (ECJ) last month, Poland’s government have moved to reinstate justices who had been made to take early retirement. The ruling ordered that Poland suspended its new law, after the government lowered the age of retirement for judges. Many of these judges were then forced to quit.
This was criticised by many, who accused the Law and Justice Party of introducing the law to take political control of the Supreme Court. The law was introduced earlier in the year. Since then, around a third of judges have been made to retire, sparking mass street protests. But now, due to the amendments, they will be allowed to return to work.
The European Commission argued that the changes to the legislation threatened to undermine rule of law, due to them giving the governing party political control over judiciary. It called on the ECJ to “immediately suspend” the law. Poland was then ordered to reinstate the judges as an interim measure.
Now, the amendment is being fast-tracked through parliament and the government says it will try and resolve the disputes it has with the European Commission. These disputes have been ongoing for several years.
However, the government argued that the reforms were necessary to improve efficiency within the court. Additionally, they believe that judges appointed during the communist era should be removed. The Law and Justice Party has appointed most of the judges to the Constitutional Tribunal. The tribunal has certain powers, including the right to veto legislation.
The head of the governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said the party would comply with the ruling. “We are members of the European Union and we will abide by European Union law,” he said. In a statement, the Law and Justice Party said that the judges were to be reinstated due to the EU court ruling. When addressing MP’s, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said: “We are fulfilling our obligations”.
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