The European Union has launched an infringement procedure against Poland over reforms the country made to its judiciary, which the EU fears will affect the impartiality of Poland’s courts.
EU commissioners decided to start the legal action Wednesday, prior to the publication of the new Polish law, with the main concern that the justice minister now can extend the mandates of judges, and dismiss and appoint court presidents.
“The new rules allow the minister of justice to exert influence on individual ordinary judges through, in particular, the vague criteria for the prolongation of their mandates thereby undermining the principle of irremovability of judges,” the European Commission said in a statement on Saturday.
Also of concern to commissioners is that female judges are required to retire five years earlier than their male counterparts.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party wants to push forward with the court reforms because it says the courts are too slow and bogged down with communist-era thinking.
According to the EU statement, the Polish ruling party has a month to respond to the notice, which informed the country it is infringing on EU laws.
The Polish government has called the court reforms an internal matter. Poland’s deputy foreign minister for European affairs, Konrad Szymanski, told the PAP news agency that the EU decision was “unfounded,” and he said the new law met legal requirements.