Friday, 21 September 2012

Justice Scorecards

Viviane Reding, the Justice Commissioner, has announced a Justice Scorecard. The concern over justice and the rule of law in Hungary and Romania lately prompted the move. Romania is subject to reports on the condition of its justice system.

On EUObserver:

""I am prepared to come once a year before this house to share with all of you the commission's assessment of the justice systems of the 27 member states," she told MEPs in Strasbourg.

The scoreboard would gauge the various strengths and weaknesses of each member state by benchmarking judicial "strength, efficiency and reliability.

People from Reding's department would probe the national set-ups and issue annual reports, paying particular attention to the independence of the judiciary.

[...]

Reding now wants to extend such annual reports [Romania is subject to annual reports] to the rest of Europe and claims to have the backing of several member state ministries, including Germany's foreign minister.

"We need such a new mechanism. Because our infringement procedures are too technical and too slow to react in situations of high risk to the rule of law," she said."

It's a good idea because the infringement procedures deal with the technical and narrow infringements of EU law, which is not set up to deal with broad rule of law and judiciary matters, but co-ordination in justice and home affairs between national justice systems. This means that the infringement proceedings don't actually address the core issue of the protection of the rule of law and fundamental rights, but national leaders can claim that their proposals and measures are compatible with European laws and values. I'd have preferred it if such reports were to be issued by the Fundamental Rights Agency to ensure more independence (and continuity - will these scorecards continue after Reding has left the department?), but this is a good start.

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