(Source: European Commission)
Today, the European Commission has published the tenth edition of the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard, an established annual overview providing comparative data on the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the Member States. For the first time, this year’s Scoreboard also includes data on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the efficiency of justice systems, as well as regarding accessibility to justice for persons with disabilities and with a strengthened business dimension.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “The EU Justice Scoreboard provides invaluable insights into our justice systems and helps us place the focus where it matters most: ensuring that the rule of law is protected across the European Union. The fact that since last year the public perception of judicial independence has decreased in about half of Member States is concerning and shows that we all need to act to restore trust of the public in the judicial system.”
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, added: “The EU Justice Scoreboard celebrates its tenth edition as a high-appreciated analysis tool for Europe’s justice community. Over the last decade, we have seen the Scoreboard evolve from an overview of basic indicators into a comprehensive collection of high-quality information. It helps us identify both opportunities for improvement and address risks to our justice systems. Objective and high-quality data are a key basis for our efforts to uphold the rule of law and the independence of justice.”
Key findings of the 2022 Scoreboard:
- Room for improvement in the digitalisation of justice systems: While the 2021 edition already took stock of how advanced judicial authorities are in the digital transformation, the 2022 Scoreboard also takes into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several Member States adopted new measures to ensure the regular functioning of courts, while also guaranteeing the continued and easy access to justice for all. Yet, findings of the 2022 edition show the need for Member States to accelerate modernisation reforms in this area, as notable room for improvement remains in some Member States.
- Varying degrees of accessibility to justice for persons with disabilities: For the first time, the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard includes data on the arrangements in place to support persons with disabilities in accessing justice on an equal basis. Although all Member States have at least some arrangements in place (such as procedural accommodations), only half of Member States offer also specific formats, such as Braille or sign language upon request.
- Challenges persist on perception of judicial independence:Since 2016, the perception of the general public had improved in 17 Member States. However, since last year, the public perception of judicial independence has decreased in 14 Member States. In a few Member States, the level of perceived independence remains particularly low.
- Guarantees in place to boost investor confidence: Regarding access to justice and its impact on investor confidence, the business environment and functioning of the single market, the 2022 Scoreboard also included data on administrative efficiency, legal safeguards in relation to administrative decisions and confidence in investment protection. Findings show that almost all Member States have measures in place for companies to receive financial compensation for losses caused by administrative decisions or inaction, and courts may suspend the enforcement of administrative decisions upon request.
The information contained in the EU Justice Scoreboard contributes to the monitoring carried out within the framework of the European Rule of Law Mechanism, and the findings will feed into the Commission’s 2022 Rule of Law Report. The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard has been further developed to address the need for additional comparative information (such as a new figure on national security checks for judges), identified during the preparation of the 2021 Rule of Law Report. The Scoreboard’s data are also used for the monitoring of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans.
Launched in 2013, the EU Justice Scoreboard is used by the Commission to monitor justice reforms in Member States and is one of the tools in the EU’s Rule of Law toolbox. The Scoreboard focuses on the three main elements of an effective justice system:
- Efficiency: indicators on the length of proceedings, clearance rate and number of pending cases;
- Quality: indicators on accessibility (such as legal aid and court fees), training, budget, human resources and digitalisation;
- Independence: indicators on perceived judicial independence among the general public and companies and on safeguards relating to judges and the functioning of national prosecution services.
As in previous editions, the 2022 edition presents data from two Eurobarometer surveys on how the public and companies perceive judicial independence in each Member State.
The findings of the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard have been taken into account in the country-specific assessment carried out within the 2022 European Semester, as well as in the evaluation of the Member States’ Resilience and Recovery Plans, outlining investment and reform measures to be funded through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). In 2021, the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (which sets out the strategic guidance for the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, ensuring that the new growth agenda is built on a green, digital and sustainable recovery) reiterates the link between effective justice systems and the business environment in Member States. Well-functioning and fully independent justice systems have a positive impact on investment decisions and on the willingness of all actors to launch investment projects.
Under the 2021-2027 Justice programme, the EU is making over €300 million available for the further development of a European area of justice. It will also help improve the effectiveness of national justice systems and strengthen the rule of law, democracy and protection of fundamental rights, including by ensuring effective access to justice for citizens and businesses. The programme funds activities which cover training for judges and other legal practitioners, mutual learning, judicial cooperation and awareness-raising.