Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a bill Monday that reinstates Supreme Court judges whose forced removal was deemed as a serious violation of democratic standards by the EU.
In April Poland passed a law that lowered retirement age from 70 to 65 and led to a forced early retirement of 27 of the 72 Supreme Court judges, including the court’s president, Malgorzata Gersdorf.
This law was condemned by many international actors, including the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission. The forced retirements of the judges was perceived as undermining judicial independence because it put the judiciary under the unprecedented control of the legislative and executive branches of government. Consequently, in July, the European Commission imposed Article 7 sanctions, ordering Poland to reverse the controversial legislation and reinstate the Supreme Court judges. This measure was followed by an interim verdict issued in October by the EU Court of Justice.
Finally, in late November, the Polish Parliament passed a new law that enables the judges to return to the Supreme Court. The legislation was backed by 215 deputies, while 161 were against and 24 abstained. Yet Duda waited until the last day of his formal deadline to sign the bill.