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Improving the effectiveness of national justice systems

National justice systems play a key role in upholding the rule of law, restoring confidence and the return to growth.


National justice systems play a key role in upholding the rule of law, restoring confidence and the return to growth.

To improve the effectiveness of national justice systems, the European Commission relies on several tools. They are

  • European Semester
  • Structural Funds supporting justice reforms
  • Technical support on justice reforms
  • Cooperation and Verification Mechanism
  • European e-Justice portal

European Semester

Improving the effectiveness of judicial systems is a priority in the European Semester. Any justice reform should uphold the rule of law, and comply with the EU law and the standards on judicial independence.

  • The Commission closely follows justice reforms in EU member countries and the Council adopts each year Country-specific recommendations in this area on the basis of Commission proposals.
  • The EU Justice Scoreboard feeds the European Semester process providing a comparative overview of how justice systems function in all EU countries.
  • This comparative overview is complemented by Country-specific assessment, carried out in dialogue with national authorities taking into account the particularities of the country's legal system and its context.

The 2017 Annual growth survey has underlined that effective justice systems are necessary to support economic growth and deliver high quality services for firms and citizens.​

O Semestre Europeu

Informe-se sobre o ciclo anual de coordenação de políticas económicas da UE

Structural Funds supporting justice reforms

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) provide support to countries' efforts to improve the functioning of their justice systems. The total budget allocated to investment in the institutional capacity of public administrations amounts to almost EUR 5 billion.

In a “Study on the extent to which and how Member States used the ESF and the ERDF in the programming periods 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 to support their justice system” commissioned by the European Commission, the use of European Structural and Investment Funds to support Member States’ justice systems has been analysed more in-depth for sixteen Member States. You can find the study and sixteen Member State chapters here.

Technical support on justice reforms

Technical support to EU countries on justice reforms can be provided through the ​Structural Reform Support Service and the Structural Reform Support Programme.  

Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

To smooth the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the EU and at the same time safeguard the workings of its policies and institutions, the EU decided to establish a special Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania to help these countries address outstanding shortcomings.

European e-Justice portal

Since 2010, the European e-Justice portal has provided a wealth of information and links on laws and practices in all EU countries. The resources range from information on legal aid, judicial training, European small claims and videoconferencing, to links to legal databases, online insolvency and land registers. It also includes user-friendly forms for various judicial proceedings, such as the European order for payment.