For many years, the incorrect application of the Single Market rules has been a concern for the EU. In that respect, the European Commission has expressed its ambition, in compliance and enforcement matters, to be “bigger and more ambitious on big things, and smaller and more modest on small things”. Given its limited resources, it makes sense for the Commission to focus on the “big things”. But then someone else has to take care of the “small things” because, added together, they constitute a serious impediment to the functioning of the Single Market.
How, and by whom, these small things shall be taken care of is the topic of our newly published discussion paper “Reforming compliance management in the Single Market”. In this paper, the National Board of Trade Sweden discusses, after looking at possible alternatives, a decentralisation reform that would consist in setting up national enforcement bodies in each Member State. Their mandate would be to investigate local infringements of EU law and, eventually, to bring actions before the national courts.
Continue reading “For a Decentralised Enforcement of Single Market Rules”
Next year, a new European Commission will take office. It will no doubt develop new policies in the field of better regulation as its predecessors have done as well. In 2015, the current Juncker Commission presented the better regulation for better results policy – the EU’s ‘Better Regulation’ agenda. Since then, the Commission published several policies as part of this agenda, inter alia, a policy on effective enforcement in December 2016. More recently, in October 2018, the Commission presented a policy on subsidiarity and proportionality in EU policymaking. With these policies the Commission has made important steps in improving legislative quality in the EU. One element is missing however: the link between legislation and legislative differentiation on the one hand and the effects thereof on enforcement on the other. This would be an important issue for the next Commission to take up as we will demonstrate here.
Continue reading “From Better Regulation to Better Aligning Regulation and Enforcement: The Example of Data Protection”
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.
Continue reading “Swift, brokered and broad-based;
How to monitor EU policy implementation like a watchdog”
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.
Continue reading “EU Agencies as Accountability Entrepreneurs: Enabling EU Law Enforcement After Brexit”
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.
Continue reading “Fit for purpose? Scrutinizing the EU’s system for ex-post evaluation”
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.
Continue reading “Transnational executive bodies: very effective but hardly accountable?”
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.
Continue reading “Emergency! But what about legal protection in the EU?”
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.
Continue reading “Why the implementation of European Union law is more than just a question of legal compliance”
Which questions remain unanswered with regard to the established mechanisms of vertical cooperation between certain EU and Dutch enforcement authorities? And which possible consequences could these unanswered questions have for the protection of those subjected to an investigation and the success of an investigation in the system of shared enforcement in the EU?
Continue reading “Cooperation between EU and Dutch enforcement authorities: room for improvement!”
A sealed sign with the EU flag does not automatically mean ‘sealed by the EU Commission’ anymore. The number of EU entities acquiring direct enforcement powers has grown from one to eight recently. The first post of this blog puts on the map and raises awareness of an ongoing development in the EU law and governance – proliferation of EU enforcement authorities (EEAs) – which so far has been unnoticed. The aim is to launch a discussion of the aims, means and challenges of this development to understand and contribute to shaping of effective and secure law enforcement in the EU.
Continue reading “Mind the trend! Direct enforcement of EU law and policies is moving to ‘Brussels’”