Poland, Croatia Rank Among Worst in EU on Judicial Independence

Croatian, Slovakian and Polish courts rank among the worst in the European Union for their perceived independence, due mainly to concerns of political interference, according to new data released by the EU.

Bulgaria also ranks among the top four EU nations where citizens see interference or pressure from government, or politicians as the main reasons for less trust in the independence of their courts and judges, according to new findings released by the European Commission on Thursday.

“Compared to last year, the general public’s perception of independence decreased in almost half of all member states” and “in a few member states, the level of perceived independence remains particularly low,” the commission said in the so-called Justice Scoreboard, an annual report based on data looking at the quality, efficiency and independence of national justice systems.

Poland has faced repeated EU warnings and several lawsuits in the bloc’s top courts about its sweeping judicial overhaul for endangering judicial independence. The government has said it’s reforming an inefficient court system and has told the EU to stay out of its internal affairs.

“Among the reasons for the perceived lack of independence of courts and judges, the interference or pressure from government and politicians was the most stated reason, followed by the pressure from economic or other specific interests,” the commission said.

In Croatia, 68.2% of people said political interference was the main reason for their perceived lack of trust in the independence of their courts and judges and 62.9% gave interference or pressure from economic or other specific interests as a reason. In Poland, 51.3% of people gave political interference as a reason, while in Slovakia, it’s 52.8%, according to the EU data.

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