Citizens Losing Faith in Independence of Courts, EU Warns

(Bloomberg) -- Citizens’ trust in the independence of their national legal systems dropped in more than two-thirds of the European Union’s member states since last year amid fears over political interference.

The European Commission said in an annual overview on Friday, comparing the independence, quality and efficiency of justice systems across the 28-nation EU, that it sees “growing challenges” in the public’s perception of judicial independence. Croatia’s courts are seen as facing the biggest challenges, while courts in Hungary, Poland and Italy are ranked among the worst.

“I am pleased to see that many countries continue to improve their judiciary. Sadly, some others are reversing the positive trends,” EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement. “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.”

Nations such as Hungary, Poland and Romania have faced increased criticism over their rule of law with their respective governments seeking greater political control over their judicial systems. The commission earlier this month warned governments about the need to uphold democratic standards and threatened a new lawsuit against Poland over its judicial overhaul.

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