Is there an impact of democratic quality on infringements with EU law ? Une étude de Bastian Spangenberg

In recent years, infringement of (or non-compliance with) EU law has become a central aspect of research in the realm of European politics. Despite this surge in research, there does not seem to be consensus on how to explain non-compliance with EU law. In other words, which factors contribute to (non-)compliance? Commonly, three different approaches are suggested: enforcement approach; managerial approach; constructivist approach.

In this in-depth study of compliance (which will consist of two parts), we want to suggest another aspect that has been overlooked so far: the democratic quality of member states.

Establishing the non-compliance with EU law: Creating the framework

In a first step, we recall the different types of infringements of EU law and lay out the stages of infrigement procedures. Secondly, we analyse the theoretical framework for explaining non-compliance with EU law. In this context, 3 types of member states and 3 conceptual approaches have been identified:

Three types of Member States as a consequence of a multilayer perspective

Pace-setters (push policies actively); foot-draggers (delaying of costly policies); and fence-sitters do not pursue either).

Why do Member States infringe? – Three distinct approaches

  • The enforcement approach: The enforcement approach draws on the possibility of strategic choice. Member states, or rather their governments can choose to infringe.
  • The managerial approach: Managerial theories, on the contrary, assume that non-compliance is not a deliberate decision, but rather something that happens. Infringements occur because of structural restrictions, such as insufficient bureaucratic capacity of some member states or just lack of resources.
  • The constructivist approach: The question of compliance depends on the perceived legitimacy of EU legislation and on the socialization of the national government. If the latter regard the legislation as legitimate and consider compliance as appropriate, they are likely to comply with EU law.

Democratic quality: A new Framework

The relatively recent problem of the EU of backsliding democracy in a number of countries (described in this part with the example of Hungary and Poland) might help us to understand better the compliance records of EU member states. The preliminary remarks on the development of democratic quality as put forward in this first part will be important for our hypothesis laid down in the upcoming contribution. It will be assumed that a stable and high democratic quality, as determined by the V-Dem, has a possitive effect on the compliance record of European states.