Today, the European Commission has published the eleventh edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard, an annual overview providing comparative data on the efficiency, quality, and independence of justice systems among the EU Member States. This year's Scoreboard includes figures on 16 new areas, for example, on how national authorities are dealing with corruption, on the length of proceedings related to bribery cases, and on specific arrangements facilitating equal access to justice for older persons, victims of gender-based and domestic violence, and persons generally at risk of discrimination. The 2023 edition also includes, for the first time, specific figures on the salaries of judges and prosecutors, on the appointment of Supreme Court Presidents and Prosecutors General, and on the highest instances exercising constitutional jurisdictions, among others.
Key findings of the 2023 EU Justice Scoreboard:
- Challenges persist on perception of judicial independence: A Eurobarometer survey among the general public shows that, since 2016, the general public's perception of judicial independence has improved in 15 Member States. Compared to last year, the perception has improved in 12 Member States and at the same time decreased or remained stable in 12 Member States. In a few Member States, the level of perceived independence remains particularly low. Amongst companies, another Eurobarometer survey shows the perception of independence has improved in 12 Member States compared to 2016. However, compared to last year, the companies' perception of independence decreased in 13 Member States.
- An insight into the fight against corruption: in 12 Member States bribery cases in criminal courts are resolved within a year, while in the remaining 5 where data are available, the proceedings could last up to about 4 years. The 2023 Scoreboard also presents a comparative view of the powers and appointment of the specialised bodies dealing with the prevention of corruption. It also presents a first overview of police and prosecution bodies specialised in the fight against corruption, as well as the appointment procedures for the heads of prosecutor's offices specialised in dealing with corruption.
- Continued room for improvement in the digitalisation of justice systems: Only eight Member States have procedural rules, which allow fully or mostly for the use of distance communication and for the admissibility of evidence in digital format only. In 19 Member States, this is possible only in a limited number of situations, such as for certain court users (e.g. parties), but not for all of them (court experts). Moreover, the findings of this year's edition reveal that, with two exceptions, courts and prosecution services in Member States still do not fully use digital technology up to the potential allowed by their procedural rules.
- Varying degrees of accessibility to justice for people at risk of discrimination and older persons, as well as for victims of gender-based and domestic violence: 17 Member States provide information on the rights of persons at risk of discrimination and 22 provide easy physical access to court buildings. Additionally, nine Member States took steps to make legal aid more accessible for older people. As regards victims of gender-based and domestic violence, in 12 Member States, all mapped safeguards are in place, including online access to specific information that is relevant to this group, special protection for victims and witnesses, support during judicial proceedings by non-governmental organisation or equality bodies or specific dedicated training for judges. However, nearly a quarter of Member States do not provide online access to relevant information about gender-based violence and victims' rights.
The information contained in the EU Justice Scoreboard contributes to the monitoring carried out within the framework of the European Semester, and the Annual Rule of Law Cycle - the findings will feed into the Commission's 2023 Rule of Law Report. The 2023 EU Justice Scoreboard has been further developed to address the need for additional comparative information (such as a new figure on annual salaries of judges and prosecutors and on bodies involved in the fight against corruption), identified during the preparation of the 2023 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 and salaries of judges and prosecutors, 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 2023 edition presents data from two Eurobarometer surveys on how the public and companies perceive judicial independence in each Member State.
The findings of the 2023 EU Justice Scoreboard have been taken into account in the country-specific assessment carried out within the 2023 European Semester, as well as in the evaluation of the implementation of Member States' Resilience and Recovery Plans. In 2023, the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (which sets out the strategic guidance for mitigating the negative impacts of the energy shocks and fostering sustainable growth and increasing the EU's resilience) reiterates the link between effective justice systems and an economy that works for people 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.
- Publication date
- 8 June 2023
- Representation in Malta