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Law on retirement of Hungarian judges overturned

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(BUDAPEST) - Hungary's highest court annulled on Monday new legislation lowering the retirement age for judges to 62 from 70 that had been criticised by Brussels for endangering the independence of the judiciary.

The constitutional court ruled that the legislation, introduced this year by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, contravened a requirement that judges be independent, state news agency MTI said.

It also ruled that the law had not been properly drawn up or applied and that it was unclear.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said she welcomed the ruling.

"The rule of law is the foundation of our European Union," she said, adding that Brussels was "ready to intervene in defence of the independence of the judiciary in all member states".

In April, the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to examine the legislation, part of a raft of controversial new laws that critics say are eroding democracy in the European Union member state.

Brussels also warned that Hungary's bid to secure a 15-billion-euro ($18 billion) credit line from the EU and the International Monetary Fund depended on Budapest proving its commitment to the bloc's democratic principles.

Officials from the EU and the IMF begin a week of talks in Budapest on Tuesday about the financial help, which Hungary requested after its currency, the forint, fell sharply.

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