Vol. 3 (2008) > lreg-2008-5

Living Rev. Euro. Gov. 3 (2008), 5

Implementing and complying with EU governance outputs

1 Instituts für Politikwissenschaft, Universität Münster, Scharnhorststraße 100, D-48151 Münster, Germany

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Article Abstract

This essay takes stock of the literature on how European Union policies are being put into practice by the member states. It first provides an overview of the historical evolution of the field. After a relatively late start in the mid 1980s, the field has meanwhile developed into one of the growth industries within EU research. The paper identifies three different waves of EU implementation scholarship. The first wave considered implementation primarily a problem of institutional efficiency. In the second wave, the degree of compatibility between European demands and domestic policy legacies took centre stage. However, many second-wave scholars complemented the basic "misfit" argument with a set of additional explanatory factors to account for deviant cases. In the third wave, some researchers began to stress the role of domestic politics, while others re-discovered the importance of administrative capabilities. As an attempt to synthesise some of the partial explanations presented by earlier research, one group of scholars pointed to the existence of culturally-shaped country clusters, each with its own typical style of complying with EU legislation. After this historical overview, the paper summarises the most important theoretical, empirical and methodological lessons to be drawn from existing studies, and it discusses promising avenues for future research. First, most scholars seem to agree on the basic set of factors that may have an impact on transposition processes. The main task to be accomplished by future research is to establish under which conditions which configurations of factors prevail. While we already know that there are country-specific patterns, the importance of sector-specific patterns will need to be explored further. Second, greater research efforts will have to be devoted to the neglected area of enforcement and application. In theoretical terms, going back to the insights of traditional domestic implementation research seems to be most promising for this type of studies. Third, the paper cautions against the poor quality of the data employed by the growing number of quantitative compliance studies. Unless the problems with the data can be solved, scholars are well advised to rely on comparative case studies, at least in addition to statistical analyses. To increase the number of cases to be covered by qualitative research, the paper makes the case for crafting collaborative qualitative research projects as a viable alternative to quantitative research.

Keywords: regulations, Europeanisation, implementation, European law, methodological issues, directives, policy analysis

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"Implementing and complying with EU governance outputs",
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Article History

ORIGINAL http://europeangovernance-livingreviews.org/Articles/lreg-2006-1
Title Implementing and complying with EU governance outputs
Author Oliver Treib
Date accepted 14 September 2006, published 9 November 2006
UPDATE http://europeangovernance-livingreviews.org/Articles/lreg-2008-5
Title Implementing and complying with EU governance outputs
Author Oliver Treib
Date accepted 1 September 2008, published 21 October 2008
Changes Section 2.3 on "The third wave: Theoretical and methodological differentiation" has undergone substantial changes and has been considerably enlarged; almost all sections have been moderately updated. The list of references has been updated and 35 references have been added.
UPDATE http://europeangovernance-livingreviews.org/Articles/lreg-2014-1
Title Implementing and complying with EU governance outputs
Author Oliver Treib
Date accepted 25 July 2014, published 28 August 2014
Changes Major revision, updated and expanded. In particular, a new Section 2.4 was added and Section 3 substantially revised and extended. The number of references increased from 143 to 223.

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