Where Have the Guardians Gone? Law Enforcement and the Politics of Supranational Forbearance in the European Union

84 Pages Posted:

See all articles by R. Daniel Kelemen

R. Daniel Kelemen

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick/Piscataway; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School; University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct

Tommaso Pavone

The University of Arizona - School of Government and Public Policy

Date Written: December 27, 2021

Abstract

Why would a supranational law enforcer suddenly refrain from wielding its powers? We theorize the supranational politics of forbearance – the deliberate under-enforcement of the law – and distinguish them from domestic forbearance. We explain why an exemplary supranational enforcer – the European Commission – became reluctant to launch infringements against European Union member states. While the Commission’s legislative role as “engine of integration” has been controversial, its enforcement role as “guardian of the Treaties” has been viewed as less contentious. Yet after 2004, infringements launched by the Commission plummeted. Triangulating between infringement statistics and elite interviews, we trace how the Commission grew alarmed that aggressive enforcement was jeopardizing intergovernmental support for its policy proposals. By embracing dialogue with governments over robust enforcement, the Commission sacrificed its role as guardian of the Treaties to safeguard its role as engine of integration. Our analysis holds broader implications for the study of forbearance in international organizations.

Keywords: European Union, compliance, institutional change, governance, law enforcement, forbearance

Suggested Citation

Kelemen, R. D. and Pavone, Tommaso, Where Have the Guardians Gone? Law Enforcement and the Politics of Supranational Forbearance in the European Union (December 27, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

R. D. Kelemen

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick/Piscataway ( email )

89 George St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
United States

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Tommaso Pavone (Contact Author)

The University of Arizona - School of Government and Public Policy ( email )

Tucson, AZ
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.tommasopavone.com/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
772
Abstract Views
3,011
PlumX Metrics