Rule of Law in Netherlands

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 perceived level of independence of the judiciary is very high, and efforts to further strengthen judicial independence continue.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A new code for case allocation was adopted in early 2020.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Government has announced plans to amend the appointment procedure for Supreme Court judges.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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A reflection is ongoing on the procedures for the appointment of members of the Council for the Judiciary and of court management boards.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The power of the Minister of Justice to issue specific instructions to the prosecution service is accompanied by safeguards and not used in practice.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Quality

yellow
A reform of the legal aid system is foreseen to be completed by 2024.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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There remains room to improve the digitalisation of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Numerous small-scale projects aimed at fostering access to justice are ongoing and are being rolled out on a larger scale.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the functioning of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Efficiency

green
The justice system is characterised by a consistently high level of efficiency.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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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
In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, the Netherlands scored 82/100 and was ranked 4th in the European Union and 8th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The legal framework for fighting corruption is largely in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A number of authorities are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Whistleblowers’ Authority acts as a centralised office, for both the public and the private sector and provides support and advice for people who wish to report a work-related situation of abuse.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Prevention

yellow
Integrity is a key component of the framework governing the public administration.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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While new initiatives aim at strengthening the integrity frameworks applicable to members of Parliament, concerns remain as regards persons entrusted with top executive functions.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Law enforcement authorities enjoy a good level of trust with regard to the fight against corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Rules to prevent ‘revolving doors’ include a ban on lobbying for former high-level officials.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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There are few restrictions on political party financing and these are not applicable to local parties or local departments of national parties.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Repressive measures

green
Several recent initiatives aim to improve the institutional capacity to fight corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Innovative tools have been deployed in order to fight corruption more effectively, including a best-practice project on suspicious transaction reports.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A public-private partnership has been established in order to strengthen the integrity of the financial sector.
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, the Commissariaat voor de Media (CvDM) is an independent administrative authority established by statute under the Media Act 2008 as a public entity with legal personality.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

yellow
In the absence of media-specific legal provisions ensuring the disclosure of ownership details to the public, information on media ownership is provided to the public via the Media Monitor published by the CvdM.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Journalists' Protection

yellow
The right to access to information is laid down in law.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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There is an extensive framework for the protection of journalists.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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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

green
Conducting impact assessments and consulting stakeholders are well-established practices for enacting legislation.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A draft bill seeks to provide a specific legal basis for measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Civil Society

green
The Government has a policy of pursuing a dialogue with civil society and making information accessible to citizens.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Accessibility

green
Respect for fundamental and constitutional rights is ensured in several manners.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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There is a strong attention for rule of law topics in politics and in society.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
Independent authorities play a role in safeguarding fundamental rights.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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