Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

Hungary in surprise ranking on EU justice scoreboard

  • Reding: 'If you were to measure this now, the trend will be dramatically aggravated' (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The European Commission unveiled a justice scoreboard on Wednesday (27 March) that ranks judicial systems in non-criminal cases across individual member states.

Hungary’s judicial system ranks higher in some categories when compared to other member states in a surprise challenge to the commission’s earlier concerns over its independence.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The commission in 2012 launched legal actions against Budapest for imposing a mandatory early retirement on judges.

The Brussels-executive also red flagged the additional powers of the President of the National Judicial Office (NJO) to designate a court in a given case and the transfer of judges without consent.

The NJO president manages the central administration of the courts and is elected by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Hungarian parliament.

But Hungary’s parliament is dominated by prime minister Viktor Orban’s centre-right Fidesz party and has been accused of planting officials sympathetic to the party line in key institutional posts where independence is presupposed.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding told reporters in Brussels the scoreboard’s data is from 2010, before Hungary reformed its constitution, and does not wholly reflect Hungary’s current judicial system.

“From the efficiency point of view, things were going rather well. So you can ask yourself why it was suddenly indispensible to start all these reforms on the judiciary in Hungary,” she said.

The scoreboard ranks Hungary’s rate of resolving cases within the top half of other member states.

It also has a relatively low number of pending litigious civil, commercial, and administrative cases.

Perceptions of Hungary’s judicial independence remained near the bottom but still above the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia (the worst).

“I suppose if you were to measure this now, the trend will be dramatically aggravated and the perceived independence of the judiciary would even fall,” said Reding.

Hungary’s parliament voted in additional constitutional reforms on 11 March despite criticism from civil liberty groups and staged walkouts from minority opposition party groups.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union said the latest constitutional additions would further weaken the control exercised by the constitutional court over parliament.

The same concerns were addressed to Orban in a joint-letter sent by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and the Council of Europe's secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland.

For his part, Orban said the amendment had been publicly debated for weeks leading up to the vote and described the new constitution as “solid as granite.”

Reding recently threatened to invoke EU treaty rules on suspending a ember states' voting rights if they trample on EU values.

But she noted on Wednesday that the scorecard is just an intermediary step on the path towards any voting sanctions.

Data is compiled and received primarily from member states but also from other sources like the World Bank.

But data gaps exists making overall comparisons questionable.

“In addition to the difficulty to obtain comparable data, some data are missing for nearly all member states,” notes the report.

Several member states provided no data at all in a number of categories.

Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Portugal and the UK provided no data in the category ‘time needed to resolve administrative cases’.

The commission says its will address the data gap by examining ways to improve data collection.

EU gives Hungary one month to fix laws

The EU commission on Wednesday gave Hungary a one-month deadline to change its controversial laws or face court cases in Luxembourg, just as Budapest is struggling to secure a loan from international lenders.

EU arrest warrant needs urgent reform

The European Arrest Warrant has helped to catch people who exploit Europe’s open borders to flee justice, but the flawed instrument needs urgent reform.

Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes

The former Bosnian Serb warlord was sentenced to life in prison for committing genocide and war crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. Mladic is still regarded as a 'hero' among some Bosnian Serbs, in a country undergoing resurgent nationalism.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  2. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  3. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  4. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  5. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  6. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  7. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  8. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'