Curtailing (informal) power—accountability lessons from the civilian dimension of EU security and defence

This blog post offers an excursion to EU civilian crisis management, an operational tool of the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Currently, some 2,500 experts—comprising lawyers, police personnel, customs officers, and security sector specialists—work in ten ongoing EU civilian missions in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Mandates cover a broad range of multidimensional tasks, such as rule of law support (in Kosovo), police training (in the Palestinian Territories), border assistance (in Georgia), security sector reform (in Iraq), or security-related capacity building (in the Sahel region).

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Complementing Centralised Banking Supervision: Preliminary Remarks on a (Harmonized) Private Enforcement of the EBU Single Rule Book

The establishment of the European Banking Union (EBU) stands as a paradigm for how the EU has become increasingly involved in directly enforcing EU law throughout recent years. The institutional centerpiece of the EBU is the so-called Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), a supervisory network under the auspices of the European Central Bank (ECB) assigned with the task to monitor the Euro-area banking system. Apart from its coordinating functions in relation to the national competent authorities (NCAs), the ECB is responsible for directly supervising the business activities of the 120 most significant credit institutions in the Euro-area in accordance to the so-called Single Rulebook, a set of harmonised prudential rules which credit institutions registered in the EU must adhere to.
This blog post is not doubting the importance of this type of vertical monitoring of market participants through public supervisory action. However, the recent crisis has shown that public enforcement is subject to several vulnerabilities. Even though the EBU may be able to overcome some of these vulnerabilities, several others will certainly remain. Thus, it is argued here that the existing supervisory architecture should be complemented by horizontal mechanisms of behavioral control. Central to this approach is a private enforcement of the Single Rulebook, i.e. the granting of individual causes of action for damages resulting from an institutions’ violation of EU banking regulation (as it is well-established for example in the area of EU competition law).

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MiFIR: Intervention Powers strengthen customer protection

The Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation Nº600/2014 (MiFIR) that entered into force on the 3rd of January 2018 establishes intervention powers for National Competent Authorities (NCAs), the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). This post discusses these ‘MiFIR’ developments. Other key developments in this area are the Packaged Retail and Insurance-Based Investment Products Regulation (PRIIPs), which introduces product intervention powers for National Competent Authorities, and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).

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Crisis Averted: the Puigdemont Surrender Procedure and Mutual Trust

Since roughly 2002 the surrender of persons for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order takes place no longer on the basis of extradition treaties in the EU. It takes place on the basis of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States. One of the main advantages of surrender by means of a European arrest warrant (EAW) over traditional extradition proceedings as a means to transfer persons fleeing justice, is that it takes place between Member States’ judicial rather than political authorities. The EAW was put in place with the explicit purpose of depoliticising and accelerating the transfer of persons escaping the arm of the law from one EU Member State to another.

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Fit for purpose? Scrutinizing the EU’s system for ex-post evaluation

Based on Ellen Mastenbroek’s inaugural lecture ‘More than the sum of its parts’, held at Radboud University, 15 September 2017 and two related articles (Van Voorst and Mastenbroek, 2017; Mastenbroek et al, 2016).

In this contribution, we critically assess the EU’s system for ex-post evaluation, using fresh empirical data. We find that the Commission has not met its repeated ambition to produce systematic and high-quality ex-post evaluation of all important EU legislation. Both the coverage and quality of ex-post evaluations have been variant. This lack of systematic high-quality evaluation is problematic, as such evaluations can fulfill important functions in the EU policy cycle: learning, accountability and improved enforcement. It also bring strategic risks for the Commission, primarily reduced credibility.

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EIOPA: with more power comes more accountability?

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA or the Authority) is one of three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) created in the aftermath of the financial crisis. They are part of the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS), a supervisory system created to ensure proper financial supervision of, for example, banks, insurance companies and pension institutions. The other two ESAs are the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

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Transnational executive bodies: very effective but hardly accountable?

The implementation of EU policies is a member state affair. This is, at least, the principle established by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union: the member states are responsible for implementation, and if there is a need for more uniformity it is the Commission that adopts further detailed rules, or exceptionally the Council.

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Emergency! But what about legal protection in the EU?

Based on an article co-authored with Argyro Karagianni & Miroslava Scholten.

The European Union (EU) has become increasingly involved with enforcing EU law directly vis-à-vis private actors. Such direct enforcement by EU authorities has a potential to address non-implementation occurring for both procedural and substantive reasons. Emerging research in the area of direct enforcement by EU authorities has mapped out the EU enforcement authorities (EEAs), EU risk regulators (ERRs), and their cooperation with national authorities from such perspectives as accountability and protection of procedural safeguards. In some cases, the EEAs and ERRs have been endowed with the so-called emergency powers. A question that (academic) research has yet to address is whether relevant and adequate safeguards are in place to ensure the rule of law and prevent the abuse of executive discretion by public authorities in such emergency situations. What is an emergency power in the EU in the first place? This blog post offers a comprehensive overview of all the existing EU entities with such powers and argues that the legal protection framework of private actors in the case of emergency must be enhanced.

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‘Rating’ ESMA’s accountability for its enforcement powers: ‘AAA’ status

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is exclusively competent for the direct supervision of credit rating agencies (CRAs) and trade repositories (TRs). ESMA is in fact the only EU agency that can exercise monitoring, investigating and sanctioning powers by itself. However, the question rises whether ESMA also renders accountability for such powers. The delegation of enforcement powers to ESMA appears to have been coupled with the establishment of sufficient political and judicial accountability mechanisms. The accountability framework may thus be assigned ‘AAA’ status. However, if changes were to happen on the basis of the ongoing revision of the operations of the European Supervisory Authorities, e.g. if ESMA’s direct supervisory powers would be extended to other areas of financial services, one important recommendation is to pair such delegation with appropriate changes to the accountability framework so that the ‘AAA’ status can be upheld.

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Why the implementation of European Union law is more than just a question of legal compliance

The European Union (EU) is an unprecedented instance of a regulatory state above the nation state. Its underlying idea is to provide joint solutions to shared regulatory problems. For example, the EU issues emission reduction targets for new cars in order to address the problem of man-made environmental pollution. However, and as the above picture illustrates, it is not always an easy task to ensure that the actors responsible for a given problem – for example, car producers – comply with such rules. Member states have a crucial and double role here. On the one hand, they often have to transpose rules from EU Directives into national legislation. Beyond this, however, they also have to put these rules on paper into action, and enforce them to ensure that target groups actually comply. Germany, for instance, has not rigorously enforced EU emission reduction targets vis-à-vis the Volkswagen Company. To put it bluntly, EU law can be perfectly transposed and still fail due to poor implementation performance in practice.

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