Perception of Judiciary in Croatia Lowest in EU

By 27 April 2019

ZAGREB, April 27, 2019 - In terms of perceived independence of courts and judges among the general public, judiciary in Croatia scored worst among the European Union member states, although the country has made progress in reducing the length of proceedings and the backlog of cases, according to the latest EU Justice Scoreboard released in Brussels on Friday.

A Eurobarometer survey of the perception of judicial independence, which is included in the EU Justice Scoreboard, puts Croatia at the bottom of the ranking, given that 42% of those polled in the country believe that the situation concerning independence of the judiciary is fairly bad and 34% say it is very bad. A mere 4% believe that the perceived independence of the judicial system is very good and 14% believe that it is fairly good.

Respondents said that the main reason for this situation is interference or pressure from government and politicians (68%), and interference or pressure from economic or other specific interests (62%), whereas 42% think that the status and position of judges do not sufficiently guarantee their independence.

In terms of perceived independence of courts and judges among the general public, the second to last place is occupied by Slovakia with 24% of respondents there describing that segment as very bad and 36% as fairly bad.

In the lower part of the ranking are Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Romania.

On the other hand, as many as 47% of Danish respondents perceive the independence of their judiciary as very good, and 40% as fairly good, while merely 1% believe that it is very bad, and 5% that it is fairly bad.

Other EU members with better results in the perceived independence of the judiciary are Finland, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.

In terms of the number of judges per 100 000 inhabitants, Croatia had 43.2 judges in 2017, as against 42.8 judges in 2010. Slovenia ranks second with 41.5 judges per 100,000 inhabitants and Luxembourg is third with 32.8 judges.

Since 2010 the number of backlog cases in Croatia has been cut by 30%. Time needed to resolve civil, commercial, administrative and other cases in Croatia was 114 days on average in 2017, as against 133 days in 2010.

After the presentation of this comparative overview of the independence, quality and efficiency of justice systems in EU member states, Vera Jourova, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said she was pleased to see that many countries continue to improve their judiciary.

"Sadly, some others are reversing the positive trends. There are still too many EU citizens who don't see their justice systems as independent and who are waiting too long for justice to be served," the commissioner said.

Since 2013, the EU Justice Scoreboard analyses three main elements of an effective justice system: efficiency, quality and independence. It is one of the tools in the EU's rule of law toolbox used by the Commission to monitor justice reforms undertaken by member states and feeds into the European Semester, according to information on the EC's website.

More news about judiciary in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.