The Unequal Reach of Transnational Institutions: Mapping, Predicting and Explaining Spatial Disparities in the Use of EU Law
59 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018 Last revised: 28 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 8, 2018
We investigate spatial disparities in the use of supranational law using a new dataset collecting the geographic coordinates of the entire universe of courts that have passed on cases to the European Court of Justice over the lifetime of the EU. We adopt a data-driven approach which integrates exploration, prediction and explanation into a single research design. Our cartography reveals that involvement in the preliminary ruling procedure tends to be concentrated in a relatively small subset of regions within member states. Next, applying machine learning methods, we find that the presence of organizations like peak courts and infrastructures like large cargo ports constitute strong predictors of EU law use. So too are capital cities and indicators of economic prosperity. Finally, we rationalize these findings using text mining and additional empirical tests. We argue that spatial variations are induced by the structure of the EU legal system as well as by the differing resources available to judges and litigants.
Keywords: Judicial behaviour, European Court of Justice, Machine Learning
JEL Classification: K10, K40, N34, C11, C26
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