Czech Republic Has Made Progress in Reforming Judiciary, Says European Commission
The European Commission sees positive developments in the justice sector. Credit: Freepik.
Brussels, July 6 (CTK) – The Czech Republic has introduced some beneficial reforms in the judiciary over the past year, but deficiencies remain in corruption investigations, especially high-profile cases, the European Commission said yesterday in an annual assessment of the state of the rule of law in EU member states.
Despite progress on other issues, the report said problems remained in the Czech Republic, for example in the working conditions of organisations defending sexual minorities and uncertainties over ethics rules for lawmakers.
As in the past three years, the Commission divided the assessment into four chapters, on the judiciary, the fight against corruption, media pluralism, and the overall checks and balances of institutions.
While the Czech government adopted an anti-corruption strategy this year for the period 2023 to 2026, its overall approach to anti-corruption policy has faced criticism, according to the Commission.
The EU executive focused its attention on investigations into high-level corruption cases, where it says progress is blocked by procedural delays, and “possible political interference in corruption cases from higher levels raises concerns”. On this point, the Czech Republic has made no progress since last year, unlike recommendations on asset declarations and the fight against conflicts of interest. According to the European Commission, experts and business representatives assess the prevalence of corruption in the public sector as still relatively high.
In contrast, Brussels sees positive developments in the justice sector. According to the Commission, the Czech Republic has introduced a more uniform and transparent system for selecting judges and has moved forward with the reform of the prosecutor’s offices, though this has still not been finally approved.
While judges may see their salaries rise again from this year after the current freeze, pay for other court and prosecution staff remains below the national average for the public sector. The digitization of the judiciary is progressing slowly, the Commission noted.
The EU executive also said the Czech Republic has strengthened the independence of the Broadcasting Council, thanks to a law change last year that stripped the prime minister of influence over the appointment and removal of its members. The boards overseeing Czech Television and Czech Radio should also be less subject to political influence thanks to amendments to the law.
The Commission’s main concern continues to be the economic problems faced by independent media forced to cut spending and make redundancies. The Commission also notes the increasing number of online attacks and threats faced by journalists, especially women.
The report is non-binding for member states and serves as a basis for the Commission’s recommendations and dialogue with national authorities. It is based on a combination of data and the perception of the rule of law in specific countries.