In recent years, the European Union (EU) has become increasingly involved in the enforcement of EU policies. While the institutional arrangements of this involvement vary in different policy areas, it is usually based on shared competences between the European Commission, EU agencies and national enforcement authorities. This ‘supranational enforcement’ appears to be a functional extension to EU regulation. However, in case of the REACH regulation on chemical substances, this extension is not based on formal delegation of competences, but informal practices of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). In this blog post, I discuss these practices to demonstrate systemic problems of supranational enforcement in the case of REACH. Due to these problems, there is substantial non-compliance with essential provisions of the regulation.
Civil society organizations provide an important watchdog mechanism in the European policy process. Based on her study on what drives information exchange regarding the implementation of EU gender equality law in practice, Reini Schrama draws three important lessons from the monitoring network of women´s groups in the Netherlands. The aim of monitoring is to gather information and gain access to valuable sources and this requires swift, brokered and broad-based information exchange. Because of this distinct functionality, monitoring networks benefit from a structure of interactions that allows information to spread rapidly across different parts of the network, no matter the preferences or the organizational background of the actors involved.
The 10-year anniversary of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights becoming legally binding is due next December. This fast approaching anniversary gives us the opportunity to look back on the fundamental changes that the Charter has brought about in EU law enforcement. Most importantly it caused a change in the mindset of EU policy-makers to give more consideration to fundamental rights when making decisions. In my view, this change towards a more rights-based approach is yet to be fully translated into the daily work of national and local law enforcement actors. I am convinced that progress can be made by training national and local law enforcement to adequately respond to interconnected security and fundamental rights challenges. However, police officers now generally have limited access to non-core fundamental rights education. Therefore, in my post, I will explore why police training should promote the understanding of police officers that a rights-based approach does not limit policing work but underpins its legitimacy in society, decreases the surfacing democratic deficit in EU law enforcement and helps to build bridges with and among citizens and communities in Europe. In light of the turbulent events that occurred recently in Europe and that have fundamentally changed the EU’s security environment, understanding the need for and potential of better fundamental rights education of police officers seems more timely than ever.
By the end of 2020, a new Office will be operational in the European Union, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The EPPO will be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment the perpetrators of, and accomplices to, criminal offences affecting the financial interests of the Union. The establishment of the EPPO can be seen as the latest development in the proliferation of EU enforcement authorities (EEA’s). The establishment of this Office raises a large number of legal questions relating to the protection of fundamental rights. This blog post will focus on one of those legal questions, namely how evidence will be gathered and recognised across the European Union in cross-border cases. Under the current approach to cross-border evidence, the EPPO could choose to gather evidence in specific Member States based on their lower (minimum) standards, which could lead to a race to the bottom with regard to fundamental rights. This blog will outline three ways in which this risk could be addressed, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
For an overview of the EPPO’s structure and both material and procedural competence, please see the earlier post on the EPPO on the student-page by clicking here.
This blog has paid careful attention to the current strengthening of centralized enforcement of EU law by European institutions, organisms and bodies, which is increasingly replacing national implementation in many areas of law. This process is also taking place when national authorities were entrusted with the enforcement of EU secondary law that provided for transnational administrative acts. In particular, both transnational authorizations and ex post administrative measures adopted by national authorities are being substituted by enforcement decisions taken by EU agencies, at times after the implementation of a composite procedure. The point that I want to make here is twofold: leaving aside its impact on EU law effectiveness, centralization transfers problems of compliance with constitutional requirements of administrative enforcement towards EU agencies, and ultimately it intensifies the constitutional dimension of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
European Union agencies have recently been highlighted as key sites for enabling future European law enforcement after Brexit. By operating as ‘nodes’ in trans-European scientific and policy networks, they provide a route to EU law enforcement in ‘third countries’ who wish to integrate with EU regulatory standards without full EU membership, creating ‘regulatory harmonisation’. There is an obvious link here to the potential to enforce regulatory arrangements and ensure ‘alignment’ following March 2019. However, ‘agencies’ have very different forms and functions. Some have hundreds of staff, are based in glamorous offices across the Union and have quasi-‘hard’ regulatory powers. Others have a couple of dozen staff and provide a discrete service to EU Directorates Generales, with more of a ‘soft’ monitoring role.
The “refugee crisis” has led to the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) (the successor of Frontex) in 2016 and the transformation (still under negotiation) of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) into a European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA). The expansion of the operational tasks of the EBCG and the future EUAA in comparison to Frontex and EASO is clear. While Frontex and EASO have traditionally been characterized by their operational role and assistance to the frontline Member States on the ground, Europol under the recently adopted Regulation 2016/794 has also started to assist those national authorities subject to the extraordinary and sudden arrival of mixed migratory flows.
Judicial deference is sometimes taken with scepticism and associated with limited judicial review or even a court’s complete abdication of its role. It is not necessarily so. By referring to competition law, I would like to argue that a deferential style of judicial review of competition authorities’ determinations based on their expert knowledge is permissible on the condition that administrative proceedings are fair, competent and impartial and on the condition that judicial review is effective. If properly understood, judicial deference can positively influence the effectiveness of EU law while not undermining the protection of the rights of private firms involved in competition proceedings.
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).
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).