According to the perception of judicial independence among citizens and businesses, Croatia ranks 25th of the 28 EU member states and the only three countries ranked worse than Croatia are Italy, Bulgaria and Slovakia, the European Commission said on Monday.

The European Commission today published the 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard which gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU member states. The aim of the Scoreboard is to assist national authorities in their efforts to improve their justice systems, by providing this comparative data.

For the first time, the Justice Scoreboard also includes the results of Eurobarometer surveys conducted to examine the perception of judicial independence in the EU among citizens and businesses in more detail. This edition of the Scoreboard also uses new indicators, in particular on judicial training, the use of surveys, the availability of legal aid and the existence of quality standards.

A total of 56% of the respondents in Croatia cited government meddling or pressure as the main reason for a lack of judicial independence.

The best ranked countries are Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Ireland and Luxembourg.

According to the perception of independence among businesses, Croatia once again ranked 25th, with Italy, Bulgaria and Slovakia as the only three countries ranking below Croatia.

According to the number of judges per 100,000 people, Croatia with 41 judges is ranked 2nd, after Slovenia which has 45 judges. Luxembourg follows with 40 judges, Bulgaria with 31 and the Czech Republic with 29 judges. The lowest number of judges per 100,000 residents is recorded in Ireland (3.5), followed by Denmark, Malta, France, Cyprus, Italy.

Croatia is somewhere in the middle of all EU member states according to the time required for first instance rulings to be handed down in civil, commercial and administrative cases.

It took 134 days on average for the Croatian justice system to hand down verdicts in 2014. The best ranked countries are Denmark (19 days) and Estonia (33 days), while the worst ranked countries are Cyprus (903 days), Malta (558 days) and Italy 376 days).

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