Rule of Law in Italy

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

yellow
A solid legislative framework is in place to safeguard judicial independence for both judges and prosecutors.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The level of perceived judicial independence in Italy is low.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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A reform of the High Council for the Judiciary and other aspects of the justice system has been proposed by the Government.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Quality

green
Resources have been allocated for additional magistrates and administrative staff.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Ongoing reforms aim at further improving the digitalisation of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The pre-existing digital solutions and the legal framework allowed for some of the court activities to be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Online access to judgments is being improved.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Reforms are pending in Parliament to restructure and increase the specialisation of the first and second instance tax courts.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Standards have been introduced to improve the quality of judicial decisions.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Proximity offices have been established to enhance the courts’ accessibility.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

red
The justice system continues to experience serious challenges relating to the length of proceedings.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Reforms to address the efficiency challenges of civil and criminal proceedings are under discussion in Parliament.
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

yellow
Italy scores 53/100 on the latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and ranks 15th in the EU and 51th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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A revision of the level of sanctions for corruption related offences has been carried out recently.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Prevention

yellow
The powers and capacity of the National Anti-corruption Authority have been strengthened as regards its preventive role to fight corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Whistleblowing legislation in the private sector is based on voluntary compliance programmes.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The conflict of interest regime is fragmented.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Lobbying and ‘revolving doors’ need attention.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Repressive measures

yellow
Anti-corruption institutions cooperate to counter the infiltration of organised crime in public administration.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Criminal organisations are increasingly resorting to corruptive practices to achieve their goals.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The Specialised police, Guardia di Finanza, is specifically tasked to counter corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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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 regulator for audiovisual media services is independent.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

yellow
The principle of transparency of media ownership is enshrined in the Constitution.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Robust rules on state advertising are in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The political independence of the Italian media remains an issue.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The laws on defamation are currently under scrutiny.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Journalists' Protection

yellow
Italy’s Ordine dei giornalisti is a non-profit body of public law founded in 1963 and represents the journalistic profession.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Rules on administrative transparency and access to public information are in force.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Physical attacks and death threats against journalists are an issue of concern.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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A Coordination Centre dealing with acts against journalists has been set up.
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 Government declared the state of health emergency and made use of decree-laws to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Regulatory impact assessments and stakeholders’ consultations have improved, but they need to be more systematic.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Civil Society

green
The Constitutional Court has adopted internal rules to encourage an increased participation of civil society and the general public in its proceedings.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Italy has a vibrant and diverse civil society.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
Establishment of an independent human rights institution is under consideration.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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