The slow disintegration of the European Union accelerated this week as the EU Commission recommended disciplinary action against Poland under Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty, signed in 2007 and coming into force in 2009, gives the EU the power to discipline member states by imposing sanctions and suspending their voting rights. The move comes after Poland moved to enact reforms aimed at cleaning up the Polish judiciary. The Commission was humiliated as Hungary immediately pledged to veto any sanctions and Poland and the UK had a private summit to discuss a trade deal.
A few years ago a British judge called Starforth Hill, then 71, provoked outrage when he said a 9-year-old victim of sex crime was “not entirely an angel”, leading to adverse headlines and Parliamentary demands for his dismissal. His actions also prompted a healthy debate over retirement age for judges.
In Poland, there have been many complaints about slow court cases and corrupt judges. As part of a package of reforms, the Polish government have introduced a retirement age of 65 for men and 60 for women. The Polish Parliament will also appoint a greater proportion of the committee – the National Judiciary Council – that in turn selects judges.