Friday 24 May 2013 by Jonathan Rayner
The UK will decline to take part in a European Commission (EC) initiative to launch a 'European justice scoreboard' that aims to improve justice systems across the continent, justice secretary Chris Grayling told the House of Commons earlier this week.
Hansard records that on 21 May, Grayling, in replying to a question from Conservative MP Christopher Chope, said: 'The EC's recent decision to publish a justice scorecard [sic] assessing justice systems across Europe, and making recommendations for their improvement, is one that this country neither welcomes nor intends to co-operate with.'
The rationale behind the 'scoreboard', according to an EC press release, is 'to promote effective justice systems in the EU' and to 'reinforce economic growth.' The scoreboard focuses on elements of the individual states' justice systems that improve the 'business and investment climate', such as the speed that cases come to court and how quickly they are resolved.
EU justice commissioner vice-president Vivian Reding said: 'The attractiveness of a country as a place to invest and do business is undoubtedly boosted by having an independent and efficient judicial system.'
She added: 'The new European justice scoreboard will act as an early warning system and will help the EU and its member states to achieve more effective justice at the service of our citizens and businesses.'
A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokeswoman was unwilling to comment on Grayling's reference to the scoreboard, saying that it had nothing to add to the piece published in the Daily Express, 'Ministers' alarm over new EU bid to seize control of our justice system'.
The article described the scoreboard as 'simply a new power-grab by Brussels.' It quoted an unnamed 'government source' as saying: 'This is more mission creep from Brussels. They are again meddling in something that should be an internal matter for member nations.'
Grayling is said to have 'vowed to fight the latest attempt to interfere with UK justice and will press for the scorecard (sic) to be scrapped.'
The MoJ spokeswoman offered no comment on the World Economic Forum's findings, published as part of the EC's press release, that the UK was ranked 13th out of 144 countries for judicial independence.