eupinions echo 30 Jul, 2020

Europeans Remain Confident in Judiciary System but Results Vary Across Member States

For the fifth consecutive year, the majority of respondents rate the independence of
courts and judges in their country as good

eupinions echo Europeans Remain Confident in Judiciary System but Results Vary Across Member States

Every week, surveys from all across the EU tell us what Europeans are thinking, feeling and talking about. In our new segment, eupinions echo, we collect these voices and play them back to you. Each week, we highlight one survey of particular interest in a short blogpost and share daily new survey results via our website and our twitter channel.


On July 10th the European Commission published their annual EU Justice Scoreboard. In it, the authors mean to effectively rate the justice systems in all EU Member States in a comparative overview, based on their efficiency, quality and independence. While large parts of the scoreboard use a purely quantitative approach, comparing data such as for example the average length of court proceedings, the scoreboard also takes into account the relative perception of a justice system by the Member State's populace. In order to do this, a special Flash Eurobarometer survey is conducted, the results of which are now available.

Overall, EU citizens appear to be satisfied by their countries' judiciary systems. An absolute majority of 56% rate their justice system – in terms of the independence of courts and judges – as good, with 12% rating it as very good and only a third of respondents (33%) saying its bad. Similarly, in 17 out of the now 27 Member States an absolute majority rated their justice systems as good. Even though, these results have been overall stable since last year, there are also about two-fifths of all Member States where the public's perception of independence of their courts has decreased over the last year. Still, when compared to eight and four years ago, perceptions have developed positively with the overall share of good ratings increasing by four percentage points since 2016.

Source: Kantar / Flash Eurobarometer 483

Naturally, results varied across the different Member States. The independence of their justice system was perceived most positively by the Danes, with 86% of Danish respondents rating their system as good. On the other side of the spectrum, Hungarians were the least positive about their justice system. In Hungary, only 24% rated the system as good while a staggering 88% of respondents perceived the independence of their country's courts and judges as either fairly bad or very bad.

Of those respondents who rated their country's justice system as good, the reason most often given for this assessment was the status and position of judges in their country, which sufficiently guaranteed independence (77%). In contrast, of those respondents who rated their country's justice system as bad, 72% stated the interference or pressure from government and politicians as major reason for their rating.

We previously wrote about the perception of independence and corruption across the European Member States. The results back then, closely mirrored the results now. 97% of Hungarians had stated that they saw the problem of corruption as widespread in their country, while perceptions in Denmark had been among the most positive, with just 35% of Danes perceiving a widespread corruption problem, only beat out by Finland with 22%.

Source: Kantar / Eurobarometer June 2020

While the results of this new justice perception survey thus fall in line with the overall generally positive results of the EU Justice Scoreboard, a look at the perceptions of EU citizens also makes it clear that this is not the time for the Commission to rest on its laurels. In her 'agenda for Europe' Ursula von der Leyen stated the Commissions plan to deepen its monitoring of the situation of the rule of law in all Member States through a new European Rule of Law Mechanism. As part of this, this years EU Justice Scoreboard will feed into the Commission's first annual Rule of Law Report, which is due to be published later this year.



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About the survey: The survey by the Eurobarometer was commissioned by the European Parliament and conducted by Kantar. In total 26,578 Europeans were interviewed via telephone between the 6th and 11th January 2020. At the time of fieldwork, the UK was still a member of the European Union, and therefore, results from the UK are included in the report's findings unless otherwise stated here.