Access to an effective justice system is an essential right, one of the founding principles of European democracies enshrined in the constitutional traditions common to all European Union Member States.
Effective justice systems and rule of law
The European Commission in the EU Justice Agenda for 2020 – Strengthening Trust, Mobility and Growth within the European Union highlighted the importance of national justice systems and the rule of law.
Effective national justice systems are crucial for upholding the values upon which the EU is founded, for the implementation of EU law and for the strengthening of mutual trust. Whenever a national court applies EU legislation, it acts as a ‘Union court’. Where rights guaranteed in EU law have been violated, the national court must provide effective judicial protection to all. The importance of this right to an effective remedy is enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Effective justice systems also play a key role in creating an investment friendly environment, restoring confidence, providing greater regulatory predictability and sustainable growth. For this reason, the improvement of the effectiveness of justice systems in Member States has been identified by the Commission as a key component for structural reforms in the European Semester, the annual cycle for the coordination of economic policies at EU level. For the same reason, national judicial reforms have also become an integral part of the structural components in Member States subject to Economic Adjustment Programmes. The EU Justice Scoreboard is an information tool which feeds the European Semester by providing comparative data on the quality, independence and efficiency of justice systems in all Member States.
Effective justice systems are crucial for safeguarding the Rule of Law in Member States. The Rule of Law Framework adopted by the Commission aims at addressing emerging systemic threats to the rule of law, in particular if the 'rule of law safeguards' which exist at national level no longer seem capable of effectively addressing these threats.