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Spain is one of the European countries with the worst rating for its judicial independence as perceived by its own citizens. While last year it was eighth from last among the 27 states of the EU, in 2021 it has slipped back further and is now sixth from the tail end, according to the report prepared each year by the European Union based on statistics from surveys conducted in the Eurobarometer framework. Only Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Italy receive a lower rating in terms of judicial independence than Spain. In 2020, justice in Portugal and Slovenia was seen as worse than Spain, but this year it is no longer so.

Half of the Spanish population has a "fairly bad" or "very bad" perception of the justice of their country. As for the perceived reasons, more than 40% of Spaniards surveyed believe that this independence is compromised by interference or pressure from the government and politicians. With respect to the 2020 report, there is an increase of about five percentage points in this particular reason. The second main reason given is interference or pressure from economic interests, which is asserted by more than 35% of repondents, while a little under 30% believe that the status and position of judges does not sufficiently guarantee their independence. In 2020, these three reasons had very similar response rates.

Meanwhile, about 35% of the Spanish population perceive the independence of the courts and judges that make up the Spanish judicial system as "very good" or "fairly good".


The business sector also rates Spain poorly

In addition to surveying the general population, the research also seeks the opinions of companies. In this case, the result is similar: Spain remains sixth from the worst perception in terms of judicial independence, although from businesses, the "fairly bad" or "very bad" assessment of Spanish judicial independence falls slightly below the 50% mark.

Another alarming fact is the gap between men and women in the Spanish judicial system. Spain is the third EU country from the tail in terms of the number of women in the judiciary, with a percentage of 20%. Only the Czech Republic and Malta are behind Spain. Spanish justice is also the fifth from last in Europe in its ratio of judges per 100,000 inhabitants (the figure is about 10 judges).

In investment, Spain is ranked eleventh in the European Union for its spending on justice, with more than 80 euros per inhabitant. The three states that devote the most financial resources per capita to the judiciary are Luxembourg, Germany and Ireland, which far exceed 100 euros per head of population.

The countries that lead Europe in their citizens' perception of judicial independence are Austria (more than 80% consider that the independence of their judiciary is very good or fairly good), Finland (with a virtually identical percentage), Germany (slightly below 80%), and Luxembourg and the Netherlands (both around 75%).


Main image: Nameplate of Spain's General Council of the Judiciary / Europa Press.