Thanks, Equality: EU Court Blocks Poland Lowering Retirement Age for Women

Poland
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that a Polish law lowering the retirement age for judges and setting different ages depending on their gender violates EU law.

The European Court of Justice said in its ruling that the 2017 law lowering the age of retirement for women to 60 and for men to 65 — down from 67 for both — “introduced directly discriminatory conditions based on sex.”

The court rejected Poland’s argument that it could be seen as positive discrimination and said measures giving the justice minister the ability to retain certain judges beyond their retirement age could breach judicial independence.

The case was brought by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, which called it “an important ruling in support of the independence of the judiciary in Poland and beyond, as well as to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender.”

However, the 2017 legislation was already amended in 2018 due to the controversy that surrounded it. Poland’s Foreign Ministry noted Tuesday that the EU court’s judgment “concerns a historical condition which does not reflect the current provisions” due to the 2018 amendment which equalized the retirement age for male and female judges.

It added that the court “should have withdrawn the complaint after the amendment to the act entered into force.” It also said Poland remains convinced that the original legislation did not violate judicial independence and should have been allowed to stand.

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