Rule of Law in Denmark

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

green
The judiciary enjoys a very high level of perceived independence.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Several measures have been taken to strengthen the accountability framework for judges and its safeguards.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The power of the Minister of Justice to issue instructions to the prosecution service in individual cases is accompanied by safeguards and not used in practice.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Quality

yellow
Some concerns have been raised over the decreasing expenditure for the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Some initiatives to address outstanding challenges regarding digitalisation of the judiciary are ongoing.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

yellow
The justice system handles its caseload efficiently, but the clearance rate has somewhat dropped.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

green
Denmark ranks 1st both in the European Union and worldwide on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Prevention

yellow
Denmark does not have a dedicated entity for promoting integrity and preventing corruption, but rather several authorities with distinct tasks.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Employee and Competence Agency has issued codes of conduct for civil servants whilst ministers are provided with guidance on integrity matters upon appointment.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Public Administration is bound by rules on impartiality, which entail a duty to report any potential conflicts of interests.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Whilst asset declaration systems exist, these are not systematically controlled or enforced.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The Danish system does not have clear rules and guidance on how persons entrusted with top executive functions engage in contacts with lobbyists.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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There are no clear rules on ‘revolving doors’.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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There are dedicated mechanisms to protect whistle-blowers but there is no overarching legislation.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Political party financing issues have been highlighted in international evaluations, and most recommendations are not yet implemented.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Repressive measures

green
The Danish Criminal Code criminalises corruption and related offences.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Denmark reviewed its overall approach to enforcement and created a specialised unit for corruption and foreign bribery cases within the Special Prosecutor’s Office for economic crime (SØIK) in 2014.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Whilst repressive measures appear adequately applied, there is a lack of broadly available statistics related to corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
The Danish Radio and Television Board operates independently.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Danish Press Council (Presse Nævnet) is an independent self-regulating body under the Ministry of Justice, established by law.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

red
There are no specific rules on transparency of media ownership or allocation of state advertising.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Journalists' Protection

yellow
The right to information is subject to certain restrictions.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Denmark has a strong tradition of freedom of expression.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

yellow
The process for enacting legislation involves a comprehensive preparatory process.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The decision-making process leading to the suspension of courts’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been subject to debate.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Civil Society

green
Civil society space in Denmark is considered to be open and the civil society organisations are closely involved through a Human Rights Council.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Accessibility

green
The National Courts Administration is active in promoting the rule of law.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
The Parliamentary Ombudsman plays a key role in providing oversight of administrative decisions.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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