The impact of EU legislation at the sub-national level
Panel 11: The impact of EU legislation at the sub-national level
Chaired by: dr. Barbara Brink (RUG), dr. Pieter Zwaan (RU), Prof. Dr. Herwig Reynaert (University of Gent)
In the run up to the local elections in March 2014, the Dutch Council for Public Administration (Rob) published the report "Connected with Europe" to draw attention to the European dimension of Dutch sub-national governance and the importance of the EU for functioning of the local authorities. Europe remains a blind spot for many municipalities, even though a large part of European legislation is now being implemented at the sub- national level (cf. Van Bever, Reynaert and Steyvers, 2011, 16; Donner 2011). Even though the importance of the EU is acknowledged within the academic literature, this theme receives relative little attention.
The aim of this panel is to shed light on the impact of EU legislation at sub-national level. This relation cannot be studied without taking into account the state structure. The way, and the extent to which, EU legislation impacts sub-national authorities (SNA’s) depends on their constitutional position and the division of powers between national and sub-national government (Jeffrey 2000, 3).
We invite papers that address this relationship either from what could be termed a perspective of co- governance or of autonomy - to use two classical principles to characterize the position of sub-national governments in the Netherlands.
From a co-governance perspective we aim to shed light on the implementation and enforcement of European legislation by SNA’s, such as provinces, municipalities, water boards or regional implementing agencies (e.g. RUD’s). The importance of the implementation phase is well recognized in literature (Knill, 2006; Bache and Jordan, 2006; Sverdrup 2007). Turning to the sub-national level can shed light on the practical implementation of EU legislation, an aspect that is addressed in a very limited way so far. This may involve specific EU legislation, such as environmental legislation or specific criteria which are related to European funds (De Rooij 2003).
EU legislation yet, does not only increase the co-governance tasks of SNA’s; it can also affect their autonomy. Although the direct effect of the EU on state-structures is limited, it can enable or restrain dependencies within states. Especially horizontal legislation such as public procurement or state aid rules can limit sub-national room for maneuver. However, there is also an indication that the EU provides local and regional authorities
opportunities to participate in programmes, etc. (see for example Marshall 2005). Fleurke en Willemse 2007 developed a detailed framework to demonstrate these constraining and enhancing effects of EU legislation on the autonomy of municipalities.
For this panel we invite papers that address the question of:
- How (successful) SNA’s implement EU guidelines or legislation?; or
- How EU legislation affects the autonomy of SNA’s and how they respond to this?
We call for both empirical as well as conceptual/theoretical papers on this theme. We especially welcome papers that take into account the recent and upcoming decentralization of tasks to the sub-national level.