The EU justice scoreboard as an instrument of self-reflection – by MEP Alexandra Thein,

The European Commission has proposed an instrument to evaluate the efficiency of national justice systems called the “EU Justice scoreboard”. Its purpose is to allow for a more

efficient justice system in the EU and in its Member States. For this reason, data should be

gathered EU-wide, which can provide insight into the functioning of justice systems. A

comparison between these justice systems can highlight the weaknesses and benefits of each system. The final goal is to “establish true European legal space, based on the principles of respect for safeguarding legal rights and other values, on which the EU is based. This should contribute to sustainable growth.

Whether this ambitious target can be reached is doubtful. The claim that national justice systems can play a central role in overcoming the current economic and financial crisis seems somewhat exaggerated. At best, improving the quality and efficiency of national justice systems would be

the most important attainable goal. As far as the aim of the EU Commission’s proposal is not harmonisation, as this is often the case, this could be a useful proposal. Harmonisation can lead to a worsening of the national justice system in the relevant Member States. The EU Commission’s method is questionable. The Commission itself writes: “The experience made in connection to the EU justice scoreboard 2013 shows how difficult it is to gather reliable and comparable data. The comparability of data is a problem, as the national justice systems and

proceedings differ to a great extent and do not use standardized definitions for gathering data. In addition, some types of data are missing in almost all Member States. For example, how would independence of the judiciary be measured ? In any case, the Commission has so far not

announced a concrete method as to how this would be achieved, and has not discussed this with Member States. This is all the more important, as the structural characteristics of the national justice systems as well as the societal traditions in dealing the justice system have to be taken into account, in order to be able to obtain usable data.

In light of these ambiguities, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has reacted cautiously to this proposal and has pointed out these deficiencies. Therefore it is important, that the EU justice scoreboard serves as an instrument of self-reflection by the Member States. Due to the weaknesses, the scoreboard should not be instrumentalised by the

Commission, to give binding indications or, worse yet, to dictate a general control of the (justice) system.

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