European Commission ups pressure in Poland on judges

Brussels - The European Commission took Poland to task on Tuesday for failing to remedy its concerns over the country's recent move to enact a mandatory retirement age for judges.

In July, the commission asked Warsaw to address its concern that the new policy might infringe on judicial independence. On July 3, the cut-off was lowered from 70 to 65 years, which meant that 27 out of 72 top judges have to step down.

The Commission's legal concerns

"The response of the Polish authorities does not alleviate the Commission's legal concerns," the commission said in a statement. It described the current appeals process for judges seeking to forestall forced retirement as insufficient.

The commission has given Poland's conservative government one more month to address the legal concerns it laid out in a July 2 analysis, which argued the retirement-age provision was incompatible with EU law.

If Warsaw fails to comply, the commission may send the case to the European Court of Justice.

The new policy does allow judges 65 and older to stay on, but only if they clear their standing with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Critics say this contravenes the principle of judicial independence and that it would let government oust judges if it wanted.