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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 27 March 2013

EU Justice Scoreboard: European Commission broadens the scope of its analysis of Member States' justice systems

The European Commission has today unveiled a new comparative tool to promote effective justice systems in the European Union and thereby reinforce economic growth. The ‘European Justice Scoreboard’ will provide objective, reliable and comparable data on the functioning of the justice systems in the EU’s 27 Member States. Improving the quality, independence and efficiency of judicial systems already forms part of the EU’s economic policy coordination process under the European Semester, which is aimed at laying the foundations for a return to growth and job creation.

The attractiveness of a country as a place to invest and do business is undoubtedly boosted by having an independent and efficient judicial system,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “That is why predictable, timely and enforceable legal decisions are important and why national judicial reforms became an important structural component of the EU’s economic strategy. The new European Justice Scoreboard will act as an early warning system and will help the EU and the Member States in our efforts to achieve more effective justice at the service of our citizens and businesses.

Olli Rehn, Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, said: "High quality, independent and efficient justice is essential to a growth-friendly business environment. This new Scoreboard will help EU Member States to strengthen their legal systems, boosting their efforts to stimulate investment and job creation."

Effective justice systems are crucial for growth: trusting that the rule of law is fully upheld directly translates into the confidence to invest in the economy. And as national courts play an essential role in upholding EU law, the effectiveness of national justice systems is also fundamental to the effective implementation of EU law. Shortcomings in national justice systems are therefore not only a problem for the Member State in question. They can also affect the functioning of the EU's Single Market and the implementation of EU instruments based on mutual recognition and cooperation, as well as undermining the protection that citizens and businesses can expect in enforcing their EU law rights.

The 2013 Justice Scoreboard focuses on the parameters of a justice system which contribute to the improvement of the business and investment climate. In particular, it examines efficiency indicators for civil and commercial cases, which are relevant for resolving commercial disputes. It also covers administrative courts, as they play an important role in a business environment, for example, with regard to delivering licences or for disputes with tax authorities or with national regulatory bodies.

The key findings of the first scoreboard include:

  • The length of judicial proceedings varies considerably between EU Member States, with one third of Member States having a length of proceedings at least two times greater than the majority of Member States. Problems can be compounded where low rates of resolving cases lead to an increasing number of pending cases.

  • Monitoring and evaluation help to improve the speed and quality of justice. While most Member States have a comprehensive monitoring system, several lag behind.

  • Alternative methods for resolving disputes, such as mediation reduce the workload of courts. These should be used more widely.

  • Perceptions of the independence of national justice systems also vary widely. Even though several Member States are among the top 10 worldwide leaders in terms of the perception of judicial independence, there is a rather low level of perception of judicial independence by business end-users of the justice system in certain Member States.

Next steps

The issues identified in this year’s scoreboard will now be taken into account in preparing the forthcoming country specific analysis as part of the European Semester process, involving an open dialogue with the Member States. This may lead in certain cases to the adoption by the Commission of Country Specific Recommendations in May, which then pass to EU leaders for endorsement at the European Council in June. Member States should then incorporate this policy guidance into their annual budgets and other legislation.

On the basis of the Scoreboard, the European Commission is now inviting the Member States, the European Parliament and all stakeholders to take part in an open dialogue about how to continue the improvement of national justice systems in the EU in the context of the European Semester. European Justice Ministers already held a first discussion on how efficient judicial systems can contribute to economic growth at the Justice Council meeting on 8 March (MEMO/13/173). The Commission will also launch a wider debate on the role of Justice in the EU, starting with a high level conference, the Assises de la Justice, on 21-22 November 2013.

Background

Improving the quality, independence and efficiency of judicial systems already forms part of the EU’s economic policy coordination process under the European Semester. In 2012, six EU countries were identified as having challenges in this area (Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia), notably in terms of length of judicial proceedings and organisation of the judiciary. National judicial reforms were also an integral part of the economic adjustment programmes in Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Portugal.

The European Justice Scoreboard seeks to provide a systematic overview of the functioning of national justice systems so as to inform the Country Specific Recommendations resulting from the Annual Growth Survey. In this way, the scoreboard will assist both the EU and Member States in achieving more effective justice systems for citizens and businesses. This will help to reinforce growth strategies in the countries concerned and for the EU as a whole.

The 2013 European Justice Scoreboard provides data on the time needed to resolve cases in court, the rate of resolving cases, numbers of pending cases, use of electronic means for managing cases, use of alternative dispute resolution, training available to judges and resources for courts. Justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done - the scoreboard therefore also provides data on the perceived independence of justice systems, based on findings of the World Economic Forum and the World Justice Project.

While the Scoreboard includes a comparison on particular indicators, it is not intended to present an overall single ranking or to promote any particular type of a justice system. Indeed, the Justice Scoreboard will be operated as a tool that respects the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States.

For more information

MEMO/13/288

Press pack: 2013 European Justice Scoreboard / Country Fiches – Data collected by CEPEJ from the Member States:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/news/130327_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Simon O'Connor (+32 2 296 73 59)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

Vandna Kalia (+32 2 299 58 24)

ANNEX

Figure: Judicial independence (perception – higher value means better perception)
(source: World Economic Forum)


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