Justice reform cannot wait

Justice reform cannot wait

If there is one Greek institution in need of urgent reform, it is the justice system. This is a widely held conviction, but no one seems to want to do anything about it. It is a disgrace for the country when major investors set conditions about international arbitration, arguing they cannot trust Greek justice.

No one, neither a big company nor a midsize company, is willing to take risks when they know that they could get caught up in some dispute that could take years to resolve in court. I am not sure what the solutions are to the problem. But I am sure there are practical solutions that require a fair share of courage.

In any case, it would be great, for once, to see the judges come up with a set of reform proposals themselves. To do so, they would have to move beyond wage or other purely union demands. They would have to assume the responsibility of hammering out their own reform blueprint.

Many of them also feel the social and financial cost inflicted by a dysfunctional system. Long delays in major projects and investments caused by overly lengthy judicial wrangling are taking a financial toll.

A simple study could estimate the cost for the average Greek worker and taxpayer. That cost should not be underestimated, especially at the time of the financial crisis and, now, of the pandemic. It would be great if this initiative were to come from the direction of the judges themselves. If Greece’s recent past is any guide, no reform can succeed unless the involved parties take ownership of the measures. None. If they remain passive or negative, the law will remain a dead letter and nothing will change.

The administration of Kyriakos Mitsotakis needs to push through this reform, which, like other reform measures, appears to be on the back burner. Europe’s emergency support package presents Greece with a unique opportunity to channel funds toward the modernization of justice, the introduction of the judicial police and other changes. Justice reform cannot wait any longer.