The MAXCAP Working Paper No. 8 “Beyond Uniform Integration? Researching the Effects of Enlargement on the EU’s Legal System” by Asya Zhelyazkova, Tanja A. Börzel, Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier has been published. You can download the Working Paper here.
Empirical evidence on the co-evolution of EU membership and its competences generally denies the existence of a trade-off between a deepening and a widening of the EU as a whole (Leuffen et al. 2013: 21). However, this picture may be rather incomplete, as it does not take into account whether the widening-deepening dilemma is resolved at the expense of the strength of the EU’s legal system. Therefore, in Working Paper No. 8 the authors assess the extent to which enlargement has affected the following characteristics of the EU’s legal system: 1) the volume of non-binding EU legislation relative to hard law (directives, regulations and decisions); 2) differentiated integration, where legislation is not uniformly binding on the entire membership as reflected by the amount of exceptions, derogations and exemptions from primary and secondary law; and 3) the level of non-compliance with EU legislation, where laws that are meant to bind member states equally are not uniformly and correctly implemented domestically. The authors’ empirical analyses generally suggest that enlargement has not resulted in a weakening of the EU’s legal system. Thus, soft law measures complement rather than substitute EU legislation, enlargement-induced differentiations are temporary in nature, and non-compliance has decreased rather than increased over time. In their future research, the authors will assess the possibility of indirect links between enlargement, differentiated integration and non-compliance. They will analyze the EU’s legal strength in terms of other aspects of flexibility besides soft law and differentiated integration.
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