A Eurobarometer poll in all European Union countries has found that Bulgarian individuals and companies are among those with the lowest assessments of the independence of courts and the judiciary.
The results of polls of individuals and companies on their views of the level of independence of courts and judges in their countries were released on April 11 2016 along with the European Commission’s annual EU Justice Scoreboard.
Across the EU, 52 per cent of those polled rated the independence of their courts and judges highly, Eurobarometer said.
Most of those who had a poor opinion of the independence of the justice system attributed this to political interference (72 per cent), pressure from economic or other specific interests (62 per cent) and the status and position of judges which did not sufficiently guarantee their independence.
The lowest percentages of individuals describing the level of independence of the courts and judiciary as good were in Slovakia (21 per cent), Bulgaria (23 per cent) and Italy (25 per cent).
Among individuals in Bulgaria, those describing the independence of courts and judges as of a level that was “very good” added up to a mere two per cent.
Bulgarians describing it as “fairly good” added up to 19 per cent, “fairly bad” 36 per cent, “very bad” 25 per cent, while those were responded “don’t know” were 18 per cent, according to Eurobarometer.
Bulgarians mostly ascribed the poor level of independence of the judiciary to interference from the government and politicians, and to interference from economic and other specific interests, and much less so to the status of judges being insufficient to guarantee their independence.
Among companies polled in Bulgaria, 71 per cent rated the independence of the judiciary as “bad” and 34 per cent as “very bad”.
The European Commission’s 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU member states.
The aim of the scoreboard is to assist national authorities in their efforts to improve their justice systems, by providing this comparative data, the EC said.
Key findings from the 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard, across the EU, include:
Shorter duration of litigious civil and commercial cases: While there is overall stability on pending cases, improvement can be observed in several Member States that faced particular challenges with a high number of pending cases.
Better accessibility of justice systems, in particular in matters like electronic submission of small claims or promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. However, there is still room for improvement in online availability of judgments or electronic communication between courts and parties.
Further efforts are still needed to improve the training in judicial skills and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for case management systems.
Most EU member states have standards covering similar aspects of their justice systems, but there are significant differences as regards their content. For example, less than half of member states have standards on measures to reduce existing backlogs and even fewer define the maximum age that pending cases should have, the report said.