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Some countries need to step up reforms to resolve civil and commercial cases efficiently – key to attracting investment and business.

Improving the quality, independence and efficiency of national legal systems across the EU is key to reaching a high standard of justice and is important for people and companies alike.

Achieving a high standard also increases a country’s attractiveness as a place to invest and do business – boosting growth and job creation.

To help governments, the Commission is providing its first ‘justice scoreboard ’. This is an annual evaluation of how EU countries deal with civil, commercial and administrative cases.

The evaluation shows some governments need to step up reforms to achieve the higher standards in place elsewhere in the EU. The main observations are:

  • court cases last at least twice as long in one third of EU countries as in the rest, sometimes creating a growing backlog. Timely decisions are essential for everyone;
  • regular monitoring and evaluation to improve the speed and quality of justice lags in some EU countries;
  • alternative methods for resolving cases (such as mediation) can cut courts’ workloads and should be used more widely to reduce delays;
  • business perceptions of the courts' independence are very low in some EU countries – justice must be seen to be done;
  • electronic systems can help reduce delays and costs for people and business;
  • compulsory training for judges and adequate resources are important for improving effectiveness.

Next steps

After consulting EU governments, the Commission will take the issues identified in this year’s scoreboard into account when preparing country-specific guidance as part of this year’s ‘European Semester’ – an annual cycle of economic policy coordination targeting growth and job creation.

Funding to help EU countries make agreed judicial reforms will become available in the EU’s next multi-annual budget.

The scoreboard compares EU countries using specific indicators of judicial quality, efficiency and independence. It allows the EU to track trends as a means of identifying problem areas.

Ensuring all national justice systems operate effectively is also crucial for the consistent application of EU-level laws – including those on the economy, consumer protection and environment.

More on EU & national legal systems

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