BRUSSELS: The European Union referred Poland to its top court on Monday, in the latest legal confrontation between Brussels and populist member governments.
EU leaders say they had to move quickly to halt an alleged legal threat to the independence of Poland’s judiciary from its own rightwing government.
But the decision will also stir mounting tensions between the central EU leadership and nationalist politicians from eastern and southern member states.
Brussels took action amid fears Poland and other EU members with populist and authoritarian tendencies are undermining the union’s founding values.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, targeted Poland’s decision to lower the age at which Supreme Court judges must retire from 70 to 65.
This would hasten the departure of judges appointed under previous governments, allowing the appointment of figures seen as loyal by Warsaw’s current leadership.
The Commission said it has “decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU due to the violations of the principle of judicial independence created by the new Polish law on the Supreme Court.”
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice could impose fines if it finds Poland in breach of EU law.