PARIS - A top European Union official praised court rulings in Hungary and Romania which rejected widely criticized attempts to entrench their ruling parties in power, but said she remained worried about both countries' institutions.

Viviane Reding, the European Commission's vice president in charge of justice, told Le Monde newspaper that Hungary was one of the most worrying cases and cited the government's bid to lower the retirement age for judges - thrown out in July as unconstitutional.

Hungary's top court, ruling against the legislation, said it would be a threat to the independence of the judiciary, echoing criticism by the European Union.

The conservative ruling party Fidesz also used its two-thirds majority in parliament to pass a new constitution, which critics saw as cementing its grip on power by taking budget issues and other areas of law out of the top court's jurisdiction.

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