Programme in a nutshell
Concrete examples of achievements (*)
exchanges of information occurred in 2021 in the European Criminal Records Information System.
justice professionals were trained in 2020 through the justice programme's financial support to cross-border training activities, to the European Judicial Training Network and through the contract on anti-money laundering training for lawyers.
visits were made to the e-Justice Portal in 2021.
victim support organisations with national coverage had been established by the end of 2020.
(*) Key achievements in the table state which period they relate to. Many come from the implementation of the predecessor programmes under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework. This is expected and is due to the multiannual life cycle of EU programmes and the projects they finance, where results often follow only after completion of the programmes.
Budget for 2021-2027
Rationale and design of the programme
The justice programme supports a broad range of beneficiaries that play an important role in the development of an EU area of justice. This includes, primarily, members of the judiciary and judicial staff, but also public authorities, academic/research institutes and training bodies, along with civil-society and non-profit organisations.
A working EU area of justice and effective national justice systems are necessary for a flourishing internal market and for upholding the common values of the EU. Promoting EU values also means protecting them and ensuring an environment respectful of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, with mutual recognition and mutual trust among Member States.
In this context, several challenges persist. Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters is insufficient and access to justice across Member States remains difficult. Tools for collecting comparative information about the quality, independence and efficiency of Member States' justice systems need to be improved. One major obstacle to mutual recognition and judicial cooperation is a lack of trust in other Member States' judicial systems. There is a need to simplify and digitalise communications, access to procedures and legal information, and connection to and between national systems. The level of knowledge of the EU acquis and of EU instruments needs to be improved across the Member States. However, national training providers tend to invest their scarce resources in training on national law rather than on EU law, and in national training activities rather than cross-border ones. In periods of economic crisis, persistent inequalities and challenges (e.g. migration) test fundamental rights and the EU's fundamental values, including the rule of law, access to justice, space for civil society and the independence of the judiciary.
These challenges are common to all Member States and have cross-border dimensions. While action at the national level is important, it is through EU-level initiatives that inefficiencies, such as insufficient judicial cooperation and the incomplete implementation of EU law, can best be tackled.
The justice programme will support the further development of an EU area of justice based on EU's values, the rule of law, and mutual recognition and trust. It will facilitate access to justice and promote judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, and the effectiveness of national justice systems.
The specific objectives of the justice programme are to:
- facilitate and support judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, and promote the rule of law, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary – including by supporting the efforts to improve the effectiveness of national justice systems – and the effective enforcement of decisions;
- support and promote judicial training, with a view to fostering a common legal, judicial and rule-of-law culture, and the consistent and effective implementation of relevant EU legal instruments;
- facilitate effective and non-discriminatory access to justice and effective redress, including by electronic means (e-justice), by promoting efficient civil and criminal procedures and by promoting and supporting the rights of all victims of crime, along with the procedural rights of suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings.
The justice programme mainly supports activities for the judiciary and judicial staff by their representative bodies, public authorities and training bodies. It is also open to academic/research institutes and civil-society organisations that contribute to the development of an EU area of justice. It funds activities to improve mutual trust, cooperation (including through information and communication technology) and knowledge of EU law. It also covers judicial cooperation instruments, the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and comparative law (notably through supporting the European Judicial Training Network). Finally, it assists in the understanding of civil and criminal law and the legal and judicial systems of the Member States, and in recognising potential obstacles to the smooth functioning of an EU area of justice. The programme also supports relevant civil-society and non-profit organisations to ensure that all citizens have adequate access to their services and to counselling and support activities.
The programme will be implemented through direct management by the Commission, under the lead of Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers.
The impact assessment of the justice programme was carried out in 2018.
For further information please consult: https://europa.eu/!RX78mN
Implementation and performance
Budget programming (million EUR):
|Decommitments made available again (*)||N/A||N/A|
|Contributions from other countries and entities||0.0||p.m.||p.m.||p.m.||p.m.||p.m.||p.m.||0.0|
(*) Only Article 15(3) of the financial regulation.
+ EUR 0.3 million (+ 0%)
compared to the legal basis
Cumulative implementation rate at the end of 2021 (million EUR):
|Implementation||2021-2027 Budget||Implementation rate|
Voted budget implementation in 2021 (million EUR):
|Voted budget implementation||Initial voted budget|
- The 2021 commitment appropriations were used for individual commitments for grants from the 2021 calls for proposals. Fifty-eight grants were signed in 2021 from the 2021 calls, for an amount of EUR 26.09 million.
- At the end of 2021, a global commitment was made for the budget to be used in 2022 to sign the remaining grants (12) from the 2021 calls, for an amount of EUR 3.14 million. The 2021 payment appropriations were used to pay the pre-financing of the grants signed in 2021 from the 2021 calls.
- The pre-financing rate for justice action grants is 65%, while it is 80% for operating grants.
- The programme's implementation in 2021 was satisfactory, and the objective of DG Justice and Consumers for 2022 is to maintain the level of implementation in the years to come. Under the adopted 2022 EU budget, EUR 42.5 million will be provided for the justice programme. The 2022 calls for proposals were published in November 2021, and the submission deadlines have been set for the first semester of 2022 to allow for the yearly budget to be respected, ensuring that the 2022 calls can be processed in time.
Contribution to horizontal priorities
EU budget contribution in 2021 (million EUR):
|Climate||Biodiversity||Gender equality (*)|
|0.21||0||Score 0*: 46.7|
(*) Based on the applied gender contribution methodology, the following scores are attributed at the most granular level of intervention possible:
- 2: interventions the principal objective of which is to improve gender equality;
- 1: interventions that have gender equality as an important and deliberate objective but not as the main reason for the intervention;
- 0: non-targeted interventions;
- 0*: score to be assigned to interventions with a likely but not yet clear positive impact on gender equality.
|Exchanges of information in the European Criminal Records Information System||0||78%||5.2 million in 2027||4.0 million compared to a target of 5.2 million||On track|
|Members of the judiciary and judicial staff who participated in training activities||0||15 000 in 2027||No results||No data|
|Hits on the e-Justice portal / pages addressing the need for information on cross-border civil and criminal cases||0||46%||2.8 million in 2027||1.3 million compared to a target of 2.8 million||On track|
(*) % of target achieved by the end of 2021.
- 2021 was an extremely challenging year for programme implementation, in particular due to the transition between two multiannual financial frameworks, the very late adoption of the justice programme regulation (28 April 2021) and the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, DG Justice and Consumers ensured that the implementation level of the justice programme was satisfactory, providing funding to public entities, NGOs, EU networks and information technology systems, and funding several key activities in support of policy and legislative developments.
- The 2021-2022 work programme of the justice programme provided around EUR 45.3 million for 2021 to support action promoting judicial cooperation and training and implementing projects supporting access to justice for all. Funds committed in the work programme were planned to be deployed via grants (about 73% of the total allocation) and procurement (almost 27% of the total allocation).
- The 2021 calls for proposals were launched as early as possible in 2021. Altogether, seven calls for proposals were organised in the first year of the justice programme, with a total budget of approximately EUR 33 million. Under these calls, 198 proposals were received, with 77 projects having been awarded funding. By January 2022, 57 grant agreements had already been signed.
MFF 2014-2020 – Justice
The justice programme supports a broad range of beneficiaries that play an important role in the development of an EU area of justice. These include, primarily, members of the judiciary and judicial staff, but also public authorities, academic/research institutes and training bodies, along with civil-society and non-profit organisations.
Cumulative implementation rate at the end of 2021 (million EUR):
|Implementation||2014-2020 Budget||Implementation rate|
- 2020 was the last year of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework and of the 2014-2020 justice programme. Ten grants from the 2020 calls under the justice annual work programme for 2020 remained to be signed in 2021, amounting to EUR 3.85 million.
- The completion line (legacy line) of the justice programme is used to provide the final payments from past commitments. In 2021, 50 final payments for grants from the 2014-2020 justice programme were paid amounting to EUR 4.05 million. In 2021, the payment appropriations were also used to cover final payments on pre-2021 commitments that were still outstanding. As regards 2022, the payment appropriations will be used to cover the remaining final payments that are still outstanding.
- The justice programme was affected by the COVID-19 crisis. By 31 December 2021, 138 amendments had been made, 42 of which were for reasons linked to the pandemic, mostly to request an extension of the eligibility period. This significant number of amendments signed following requests to extend the duration of grant agreements due to the COVID-19 crisis will automatically lead to the delayed budgetary execution of the corresponding payment credits.
|Number of items of exchange information in the European criminal records information system||0.3 million||> 100%||3.5 million in 2020||4.1 million compared to a target of 3.5 million||On track|
|Judiciary/judicial staff training (**)||0||> 100%||16 000 in 2020||22 423 compared to a target of 16 000||On track|
|Hits on the e-Justice Portal||0.4 m||94%||4.6 million in 2020||22 423 compared to a target of 16 000||On track|
(*) % of target achieved by the end of 2021.
(**) % of target achieved by the end of 2020.
- The outputs from the justice programme in 2014-2020 are closely linked to the Commission's activities relating to preparing, supporting and ensuring the correct implementation of an important number of EU legal instruments in civil and criminal law, improving their enforcement and remedy capacities in Member States and ensuring adequate cross-border and EU-level cooperation.
- The proper application of EU law is a key element in allowing EU citizens and business to benefit from that law. This is achieved through both preventive action (workshops, expert meetings, stakeholder dialogues, technical guidelines for national authorities and training of justice professionals financed through the programme) and infringement procedures. The activities funded by the programme resulted in the better implementation and functioning of EU justice instruments (e.g. European Investigation Orders, European Arrest Warrants and surrender procedures, European Protection Orders, European Account Preservation Orders, family law). Analytical activities also helped prepare or accompanied new legislation, and responded to policy changes in the areas covered by the programme.
- The justice programme also supported activities relating to the promotion of the rule of law via all its instruments. Action grants on judicial training offered training to the judiciary on the main principles and values stemming from Court of Justice of the European Union and European Court of Human Rights case-law and international documents, and such grants also funded projects to improve the quality of national judicial systems.
- The actions of the programme in relation to specific objective 1 ('Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters') are on track to achieve their goals. The programme has helped to improve the implementation and functioning of existing legislative cooperation instruments and has supported the development of several information and communication technology tools to enhance access to information.
- Overall, the justice programme has performed very well in achieving its goals in relation to specific objective 2 ('Judicial training').
- In 2020 and in 2021, most training activities took place online, adapting their delivery to the pandemic and to the travel restrictions. Online activities gave a tremendous boost to participation in the training activities supported by the programme, especially regarding attendance by lawyers. The overall number of participants reached a record level of 22 423 in 2020 – around 7% of all the justice professionals who received training on EU law that year.
- On the other hand, under the specific European Judicial Training Network's annual training programmes, which are also supported via the justice programme, the number of participants dropped to 5 074 in 2020, as not all activities could be moved online. For example, most face-to-face exchanges could not take place. However, the cost-to-serve ratio (i.e. the price per person for one training day offered by the network) decreased to an exceptional level of EUR 239, as online activities are cheaper than cross-border face-to-face activities.
- The actions of the programme in relation to specific objective 3 ('Access to justice') are on track to achieve their goals of facilitating access to justice for all – including promoting and supporting the rights of victims of crime – while respecting the rights of the defence.
- The European e-Justice Portal, a one-stop shop for justice matters, contributes significantly to improving and facilitating access to justice for citizens, businesses, national authorities, legal practitioners and the judiciary. Over the years, it has grown to cover more than 150 topics in a wide variety of areas.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to have an impact on the implementation of the programme in relation to funds awarded via action grants or operating grants. However, a full assessment is not yet possible, since reporting for this period will only be done later at project closure or final report time.
- Many of the programme's beneficiaries converted activities such as training to online events as much as possible. Obviously, much less funding is needed for such events. Moreover, some activities, while not completely cancelled, were reduced in scope (e.g. the parts that were only meaningful in case of physical interaction have been delayed, or in some cases cancelled). Both factors will result in funds being recovered in upcoming years.