EUROPE - The European Commission (EC) has started legal action against Hungary over a raft of new laws recently implemented in the country - including the reduction of the retirement age for judges and prosecutors from 70 to 62 years.

The Commission argued that the compulsory retirement of 274 judges contravened EU rules.

“EU rules on equal treatment in employment prohibit discrimination at the workplace on grounds of age,” it said.

“In Hungary’s case, the commission has not found any objective justification for treating judges and prosecutors differently than other groups, notably at a time when retirement ages across Europe are being progressively increased and not lowered.”

The Commission said the situation was even more legally questionable since the Hungarian government informed Brussels it planned to raise the general retirement age to 65.

Earlier this month, Hungary’s government accused the country’s pension funds of adopting fraudulent practices last year.

The charges were the latest in a saga that has seen all but 3% of the country’s €10bn second-pillar pension funds liquidated and transferred back to the state Treasury.

Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights received more than 8,000 applications regarding changes to the Hungarian pensions system implemented in December 2010. 

The Hungarian government’s much-criticised reform of the pensions system aimed to force participants in mandatory second-pillar funds to hand over their savings to the state.

In June last year, Hungarian pension funds transferred HUF2.9trn (€11.8bn) back to the public social system as part of the government’s controversial plan to reduce its debt.