The European Commission presented, on Friday 10 July, the results of its Justice Scoreboard for 2020, which provides a comparative overview of the independence, quality and efficiency of the judicial systems of the EU Member States. This 8th edition covers the years 2012 to 2019, but not the year 2020, and therefore does not reflect the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the results of two Eurobarometer surveys commissioned by the Commission, public perception of independence has decreased in about two-fifths of all Member States compared to last year. Interference or pressure from government and politicians was the most common reason given for the perceived lack of independence of courts and judges, followed by pressure from economic or other vested interests. The data will be used to feed into the first annual report on the rule of law which the Commission is due to adopt in September.
For the rest, the 2020 edition shows that the efficiency and quality of justice systems in most Member States have continued to improve or have remained stable. Countries such as Portugal, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia have continued to reduce their backlogs in civil and commercial cases.
Another novelty is that the 2020 edition of the Scoreboard includes new indicators on the digitalisation of judicial systems. The report also shows that all Member States are beginning to put in place provisions to ensure that judgments are machine-readable, even if their degree of progress differs. Moreover, electronic means during court proceedings are only partially available. In more than half of the Member States, electronic submission of applications and transmission of summonses is still not in place or is only possible to a limited extent. The Commission also notes major shortcomings with regard to the possibility to follow legal proceedings online, where no Member State has achieved full deployment in all jurisdictions and areas of law.
Communication from the European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1316