Book review, EU – Baltic States, Legislation

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 28.05.2018, 12:41

Appropriate response to the EU legal challenges

Eugene Eteris, LLD, prof. European Studies Faculty, RSU, Riga , 04.01.2012.Print version
European legal community is extensively writing about the development of the EU law during last 20 years: most active are Oxford and Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan and McGraw-Hill, to name a few. For example, Kluwer Law International in the Netherlands lunched a series of European Monographs in 1991 and published more than 70 books on various legal, political and economic aspects of European integration issues, including the present one.

Among them, several books on particular European law problems; one of the latest represents a collection of papers from a conference convened under the auspices of the Institute of European Public Law in the University of Hull in June 2008*).     


One might say that the date of the conference and its outcomes seems a little bit outdated, but the editors managed to collect revised papers’ versions for publication in autumn of 2009 with the final touch by the editors –professors of law from Hull University – in November 2009, the time the Treaty of Lisbon was finally adopted by all contested partners.


*)The European Union Legal Order after Lisbon. Eds. Birkinshaw P. & Varney M.-Walters Kluwer , Aspen Publ. 2010. -366 pp. ISBN 978-90-411-3152-2.

Legal challenges

Most rewarding is the inspirational message presented by the book’s editors in the introduction. “This book is about European Union law, and its future and future influence. The present and the future (of the EU law, of course) are challenging… and the chapters offer some insights into these challenges which we expect will assist in formulating appropriate responses” (p. xxv). 


It has been difficult and ambitions to deliver on such a big task. And as soon as we know pretty well what the Union’s “pre-Lisbon” legal order looked like, the readers are much more interested in how the new legal order can make the EU integration prospects look brighter. How the new legal order can assist in reaching new goals in a troubled EU integration, to say the least?


The materials presented for the conference –and hence arranged in the book -are divided into four parts. To the authors, these themes are central to the EU legal order perspective development. 


Part 1 is aimed at revealing the connections between the political and legal orders in the EU; four issues-papers are chosen in the first part: for public law and administrative law, for the European order in general and the European order through governance and constitutionalism. Multinational federal European state depicts the definition of a contemporary EU, argued the authors (p.43). For example, J.E. Fossum is trying to figure out what kind of legal order would fit into such federal structure. Unfortunately, no clear answer is given: on the contrary, such notion as conventional conception of democracy and representative deficit are used instead. As to the European public law, the authors claim close connections between the “Europeanized law” and member states’ internal law (J. Schwarze). “Uncodified general principles of law have bridged the gap between different national legal systems” comes the concluding comment (p.29).     


However, existing European economic law could not stand the test of the current financial crisis (in contrast to Schwarze’s confirmation, and recent draft of the “euro+pact” as well as new intergovernmental agreement on changes in the Treaty have clearly showed that. And the authors are right, that European public law would not supersede domestic public law, and that a European federal state with a uniform public law would not emerge (p.31).


Part two, also of four articles, dwell on the EU’s regulatory future. As examples, the authors used such items as the legal control over regulatory bodies (P. Craig), the EU financial regulations (T. Tridimas), regulation of public services and competition (C. Bovis) and regulating of the media market ( M. Feintuck & M. Varney). It seems the choice of themes was taken by random or the editors put in the book what they have had for the conference; needless to say that these for issues reflect the focal pints of the EU “regulatory future”. Except, probably the paper on financial regulations in which prof. T. Tridimas makes a conclusion that the EU financial law moves towards federalization, which is based on “reform of financial architecture and the adoption of Community legislation in specific areas” (p. 134).The author argues that the “emphasis lies, perhaps, more in the first than in the second”. Most likely, he is right; at least this is what the new intergovernmental agreement among 26 member states (the UK has opted out) is aimed at. It is well known that the European financial crisis has implications for the EU economy and, consequently, for the regulatory system. What is less evident, however, is on what terms the member states would agree in the future “financial architecture”.  


In the part three –citizenship and human rights- the citizenship and European democracy issues are discussed (M.La Torre) the European asylum policy (D-U. Galetta) and transparency in access to the EU documents (P. Birkinshaw).


The concluding part four of the book reveals constitutional and legal principles in the EU legal order (which the authors called “uncertain order).  Here the EU multilevel governance is compared with the Germany’s federal system (J. Ziller), the role of European judges is discussed (J. Bell) as well as issues of constitutional pluralism (C. Kombos).  


Besides all the positive aspects of showing the EU law “after Lisbon”, the book lacks an important ingredient of the EU legal order, i.e. revealing its integral connections with the international law and regulations. The European legal model matters enormously for globalization process: a set of vital issues cannot be solved by the EU members alone. Hence, the global legal challenges: there is no national solutions to combating climate changes, not to tackling the financial crisis or immigration. The EU has a 60-something years’ “success story” of getting national governments into creating common/single market; it still a model for various regions in the world. What lies ahead is getting EU member states into closer legal cooperation which is not at all an easy target to reach.

Search site