The European Commission published its fourth annual Rule of Law report 2023. The Report sets out key elements of the rule of law developments in the European Union and presents Member State-specific assessments in 27 country chapters. The report covers four pillars: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and other institutional checks-and balances. There is a general report, country chapters with a more detailed analysis for each Member State and as of this year the report also includes specific recommendations to all Member States.
In the key findings the European Commission highlighted the following developments in the Justice Systems:
Many Member States have continued to carry out reforms related to key elements of their justice system, such as the procedures for appointment and dismissal of judges or as regards Councils for the Judiciary. It is important that such reforms safeguard judicial independence, based on the principles established by the CJEU.
Where Councils for the Judiciary are established, they act as an important safeguard for judicial independence, as recognised in the case-law of the CJEU. They can act as a buffer between the judiciary and the other branches of power in matters such as the appointment and career of judges or magistrates, and in the management of the justice system <...>. Councils for the Judiciary also need adequate resources to function in an effective way and fulfil their mandates, and they must be able to manage their budget independently.
An efficient justice system manages its caseload and backlog of cases and delivers its decisions without undue delay. Excessively long proceedings and substantial backlogs undermine the trust citizens and businesses place in national justice systems. For the justice system to work properly, adequate resources, including the necessary investments in physical and technical infrastructure, and well qualified, trained and adequately paid staff, are indispensable. One method of ensuring the long-term resilience of the justice system is to ensure the attractiveness of judicial professions, including through adequate remuneration, and to minimise the number of vacancies open for judges, prosecutors and court staff. Following the 2022 report recommendations, positive steps have been taken in several Member States.