Rule of law European Union

Justice delayed and justice denied: New report on non-implementation of European court rulings

Over the past few years, governments, media and citizens have become increasingly alarmed about the backsliding of fundamental European values. Yet, while the rule of law is becoming an issue of sanctions and hard political controversy, one missing piece of the rule of law puzzle is often overlooked: the non-implementation of judgments of two key European courts, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The non-implementation of judgments of the European Courts has become a systemic problem. Around 40% of the leading judgments of the ECtHR relating to EU states from the last ten years have not been implemented. Each of these judgments represents a significant or structural problem, often with direct consequences for many citizens. And yet, authorities have not implemented them. 

At the same time, the CJEU is facing increasing contestation. While a certain resistance against the Luxembourg-based court is nothing new, it has increased in recent years, with courts and governments in EU Member States openly challenging the top body of the EU’s judiciary.

To shed more light on these worrying trends, Democracy Reporting International and the European Implementation Network (EIN) published the joint report 'Justice Delayed and Justice Denied: Non-Implementation of European Courts Judgments and the Rule of Law' offering a unique methodology that ranks member states based on three criteria: the number of leading judgments pending implementation, the proportion of leading judgments pending implementation from the last ten years and the average time leading cases have remained unimplemented. Have a glance at the resulting ranking on the map and download the report below. 

Download Report

The report was launched on 19 April 2022 at an online discussion where EIN Director George Stafford presented its findings. This was followed by a panel debate with distinguished speakers:

  • Florian Geyer, Head of Unit, Justice policy and rule of law, European Commission
  • Sophia in’t Veld, MEP (Renew/The Netherlands)
  • Christophe Poirel, Director of Human Rights, Council of Europe

Jakub Jaraczewski, Research Coordinator Rule of Law, DRI, moderated the discussion. 

Democracy Reporting International (DRI) works to improve public understanding of the rule of law in the EU as part of the re:constitution programme funded by Stiftung Mercator. Sign up for DRI’s newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about the rule of law in Europe.

Photo credit: Paul Robert Lloyd /  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 and Gwenael Piaser / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


DRI_Publication Final Web Download

This work is supported by

Stiftung Mercator