Quality of justice systems in EU member states

Member states of the European Union (EU) must have confidence in each other’s justice systems if they are to cooperate effectively. As the EU has expanded, it has become more difficult to take such confidence for granted, given the great diversity between the member states’ systems. Points of variation include the length of court proceedings, the independence of the courts and the severity of sentences. A number of initiatives have been undertaken to measure and ultimately improve confidence in the respective justice systems.

Evaluation of the mutual trust and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice has cooperated with its counterparts in France and Germany on an international project to develop a methodology for evaluating mutual trust and judicial cooperation in criminal matters of the EU member states. The first steps were taken by the Netherlands in 2009 and an international project team began work in 2011, producing for example a survey to be presented to public prosecutors in each of the 28 EU member states. Peer reviews were also carried out in the Netherlands, France and Germany. The was presented in May 2013 at a European conference in The Hague.

Other justice initiatives in EU member states

Other initiatives are also being undertaken to measure and ultimately improve confidence in the respective justice systems of EU member states, both at European and national level. For instance, in March 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Justice Scoreboard, a tool for comparing the performance of the civil justice systems of EU member states.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also undertaken a rule of law initiative with the long-term aim of developing a monitoring mechanism to evaluate the rule of law in EU member states. One of the key aims will be cooperation between the justice authorities in criminal cases.