Greece’s rule of law regresses, reports the World Justice Project

The World Justice Project published a report on the progress and decline of EU member states in the rule of law. European Union member states continue to lead the way globally in the rule of law, with Bulgaria and Slovenia making the most positive progress in 2023, while Greece and Belgium registered big declines.

The World Justice Project is an international civil society organization that has developed the rule of law index that measures human rights, access to justice, corruption and authoritarianism worldwide. The index has undergone a sensitivity analysis by the Econometrics and Applied Statistics Unit at the European Commission Joint Research Centre.

The report found that 78% of the world’s countries saw a decline in the rule of law since 2016, with legislatures, judiciaries and civil society losing ground on checking executive power globally. Index scores on governmental accountability and checks and balances fell in 74% of countries over the past seven years.

Even though the EU remains a stronghold for the rule of law, as states have regressed less compared to countries in other regions, 14 member states registered a decline under the index between 2022 and 2023.

The rule of law index is based on assessments of the countries’ legal systems, open government, constraints on government, fundamental rights, order and security, and regulatory enforcement.

Bulgaria, which had the second-worst EU rating of 0.56 in 2023, topped the rankings regarding rule of law progress, with a 1.7% increase from 2022 and growth in all areas except for regulatory enforcement.

The improvement of the judicial system and its independence can be attributed to radical reforms that had been kickstarted in the spring, mainly affecting the prosecutor’s office, reports pan-European media network Euraktiv.

Regarding EU countries that regressed, Greece came out on top.

While EU lawmakers have pointed respect for the rule of law in Greece being in the “danger zone” for years, the index points to a decrease of 1.4% since 2022, and 0.4% since 2016. It currently ranks third lowest in the EU at 0.61, with the most regression being recorded in civil and criminal justice areas, with a decrease of 2.2% and 4.3% from 2022, respectively.

Greece’s judicial system has been continuously brought up in the EU’s annual rule of law reports. In 2023, the EU report saw a deterioration in access to justice and expressed that changes are needed including reform on how top judicial positions are appointed to safeguard independence.

The most recent example is the much-discussed “Greek Watergate”, a wiretapping scandal in which the phones of several politicians, businessmen and journalists were found to be bugged by illegal Predator spyware. Although the scandal erupted in July 2022, investigations have not reached any results.

[Euroaktiv/World Justice Project]


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