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    People hold EU and Polish flags as they gather during a pro-democracy demonstration at the Old Town in Warsaw, Poland January 9, 2016

    European Commission Initiates New Legal Case Against Poland

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    In December, the European Commission expressed its readiness to invoke Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would suspend Poland's membership rights in the European Union, such as voting in the Council of Europe.

    The European Commission on Monday has launched an infringement procedure against Poland over its Supreme Court legislation, the commission said in a statement.

    "The Commission is of the opinion that these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges," the statement reads.

    The commission expressed concern over the new law forcing 27 out of 72 Supreme Court to retire as it lowered the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65.

    READ MORE: Hungarian PM Orban Vows to Block Any EU Sanctions Against Poland

    In December 2017, the European Commission proposed to invoke Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty over Poland's controversial judiciary legislation, paving the way for sanctions against the country and suspending some of its rights as an EU member.

    Warsaw's previous bills on judiciary reform were approved in July. While one of them empowered the parliament to appoint members of the National Council of Judiciary, another bill expanded the powers of the justice minister, enabling the official to appoint or dismiss chief judges of ordinary courts.

    The European Commission opposed the Polish legislation since it stipulates discrimination against individuals on the basis of gender by providing for the different retirement age for female and male judges. In addition, the Polish law is criticized over undermining the courts' independence by giving the minister of justice the discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age, to dismiss and appoint court presidents and exert influence on individual judges through "vague criteria."

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    sanctions, reforms, judicial, EU, Poland
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