EU Justice Scoreboard long overdue

| May 28, 2013

The bureaucratic process of the legal system in Spain is notoriously lengthy and the record of charges dropped long. The new EU Justice Scoreboard is therefore long overdue, says Spanish journalist Marta Conejo Sobrino.

In a comment for The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg wrote on 8 April 2013: “When it comes to Washington’s current (and to all appearances permanent) fiscal fracas, the semantic weeds are high as an elephant’s eye and higher than a donkey’s. In the battles over debt limits, fiscal cliffs, continuing resolutions, and the budget, the clashing sides deploy duelling vocabularies.”

Well, this is how it feels in Spain, too.

If we look at the north of Spain, the weeds are certainly high in the case of Alberto N. Feijóo, Galicia’s current president, who in 1995 was photographed with one of the first traffickers of narcotics in the EU, Marcial Dorado. He distributed the – then illegal – tobacco in Spain in the 1980’s. His connections with Swiss and French smugglers made him part of a judicial prosecution called ‘The Peseta Connection’.

The Peseta Connection: It was 1989, when 26,000 million pesetas worth of narcotic substances were seized by Interpol. However, charges against Mr Dorado were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Now in prison, arrested after the Nécora Operation, Mr Dorado leaves family and friends behind. Many friends, indeed. His influences saved him from jail up until 2009.

Feijóo, who has been accused of receiving envelopes of cash and, ironically, was assumed to be one of the best candidates to replace current PM Mariano Rajoy, stands alone. Ready to be devoured by public opinion with a wave of criticism. Feijóo, high as an elephant’s eye, threatens those who push him down with compelling verbosity: “Throughout the years, I have been threatened with these photos. I shall be no victim. I am more than ready to go to Parliament and defend myself against false allegations”, said Feijóo.

Certainly, he knows he has little to worry about, as no other politicians face the consequences of their acts at all these days.

The record of charge-dropped cases in Spain is quite impressive (one of the reasons being that charges become obsolete due to the years it takes for them to be prosecuted). The lengthy bureaucratic process of the legal system feels like a curse. For this reason, I welcome with open arms the new EU Justice Scoreboard.

The new policy in the EU is all about centralisation, which I very much agree with.

“Justice delayed is justice denied”, according to the EU Justice Commissioner and Vice-President, Viviane Reding.

The new EU Justice Scoreboard three main ideas are:

  1. Backlogs: One third of member states have a length of proceedings at least twice as long as the rest of the member states.
  2. Mediation: Out-of-court methods for resolving disputes are strongly advised.
  3. Independence: Even though several member states are among the top ten worldwide leaders in terms of the perception of judicial independence, there are others that find themselves lower on the ladder.

As stated by Reding, “justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done”. Indeed, let’s hope these and other scandals find their way to the justice citizens deserve, instead of a mere verbal duel between political parties.