Belgium must do even more to provide its justice sector with enough staff and resources, the European Commission notes in a new report on the state of rule of law in the 27 EU member States.
Additional resources are needed because, despite major investments and other initiatives, deficits remain a challenge for the judiciary, according to the report, which is the result of in-depth analysis of all aspects of the rule of law.
Like the other member states, Belgium has received a series of recommendations from the Commission with the report. The executive arm of the European Union is asking the State to take additional measures to fully staff the judiciary and provide it with adequate funding.
This remains a challenge, even after similar criticism was made in earlier versions of the report in 2020 and 2021.
The Commission also cited this year’s audit by the Supreme Judicial Council on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
It found that courts of first instance and public prosecutor’s offices had insufficient resources during the crisis. This shortage, it said, was felt in terms of material as well as IT equipment and personnel.
To address this, the federal government has released “substantial” financial resources, the Commission notes. These include 55.8 million euros earmarked for the recruitment of 131 additional magistrates and 803 additional staff for the various courts by the end of this year.
However, “filling vacancies remains a challenge,” writes the Commission, which also notes that efforts are being made to attract more candidates for a career in the justice system.
The Commission noted further that the College of Courts and Tribunals was working on a reliable workload measurement tool, on the basis of which resources can be allocated optimally.