European Commission: How to improve the justice systems in the member states
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    European Commission: How to improve the justice systems in the member states

    The Commission has published the 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard which gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU Member States. The aim of the Scoreboard is to assist national authorities in their efforts to improve their justice systems.

    The Justice Scoreboard, which was published yesterday (11 April), also includes for the first time the results of Eurobarometer surveys conducted to examine the perception of judicial independence in the EU among citizens and businesses in more detail.

    “The fourth EU Justice Scoreboard shows that Member States’ efforts to improve justice systems continue to bear fruit. The key role of national justice systems in upholding the rule of law, enforcing EU law and establishing an investment-friendly environment deserve these efforts” said Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

    The Scoreboard shows significant differences between Member States in all aspects of efficiency, resources, quality and independence of the courts.

    Key findings

    • Shorter duration of litigious civil and commercial cases: While there is overall stability on pending cases, improvement can be observed in several Member States that faced particular challenges with a high number of pending cases.
    • Better accessibility of justice systems, in particular in matters like electronic submission of small claims or promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. However, there is still room for improvement in online availability of judgements or electronic communication between courts and parties.
    • Further efforts are still needed to improve the training in judicial skills and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for case management systems.
    • Most Member States have standards covering similar aspects of their justice systems, but there are significant differences as regards their content. For example, less than half of Member States have standards on measures to reduce existing backlogs and even fewer define the maximum age that pending cases should have.
    • The Scoreboard incorporates the results of different surveys on the perception of judicial independence. For Member States where perceived independence is very low, the most notable reasons given included interference or pressure from government and politicians, and from economic or other specific interests.

    The findings of the 2016 Scoreboard are being taken into account for the ongoing country-specific assessment of the justice systems in the Member States.

    The 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard resulted in Country Specific Recommendations to four Member States: Croatia, Italy, Latvia and Slovenia. The Commission also continues to monitor the efforts in this area in other Member States such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia.

    In 2015 almost all Member States adopted, or announced, changes to their justice systems. Many measures however remain to be implemented.

    The Commission states that it will continue to encourage the judicial networks to deepen their assessment of the effectiveness of legal safeguards aimed at protecting judicial independence.In half of the Member States a majority of the population perceives the independence of courts and judges as fairly bad or very bad.

    The Brussels Times has asked the Commission to comment on some of the figures in the Justice Scoreboard.

    The Brussels Times (Source: Belga)