European Commission releases 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard

Cribbing from the press release:

Today, the European Commission publishes the 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard which gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU Member States.

Its aim is to assist national authorities to improve the effectiveness of their justice systems. Compared to previous editions, the 2017 Scoreboard looks into new aspects of the functioning of justice systems, for example, how easily consumers can access justice and which channels they use to submit complaints against companies. For the first time, it also shows the length of criminal court proceedings relating to money laundering offences.

One of the more interesting sets of findings goes to public perception of the member states’ judicial independence.  More after the jump.

Members of the public were asked to assess the level of judicial independence in each country, and — in a follow-up-question — identify reasons for a perceived lack of judicial independence.  The highest performing countries, as measured by the highest percentage of the public determining judicial independence to be “very good” or “fairly good,” were (in order) Denmark, Finland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.  The five lowest performing countries by the same criteria were (from the worst upward) Slovakia, Bulgaria, Spain, Croatia, and Italy.

The three measures contributing to lack of judicial independence noted in the report were: (1) the status and position of judges does not guarantee their independence; (2) interference or pressure from economic or other specific interests; and (3) interference or pressure from government and politicians.  Unsurprisingly, the highest performing countries were perceived to have low levels of these problems, while low performing countries were perceived to experience these problems pervasively.

One country stuck out: Estonia.  Overall, it ranked poorly on perceived judicial independence: eighth-worst in the EU.  At the same time, none of the three standard explanations for lack of judicial independence rated highly as a factor for Estonia’s independence woes.  Indeed, its numbers along all three factors were comparable to those of the Netherlands, and even  better than those of the UK or Sweden.

The full report statistical tables are at the bottom of this page.  A special report on the judicial independence findings can be found here.

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