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German Research Institute for Public Administration

Administrative styles and discovery of leeway within the Europeanization process

This project focuses on the interrelation of administrative styles and the ability of the political and administrative system in selected member states to discover and to take advantage of leeway in the transposition and implementation of EU law.

Based on the recognition that EU law is interpreted in different ways by the member states and that it could also be partially misunderstood (cf. project Problems in implementation of EU law through national law due to misjudging the national leeway), this research project explores the causes of the differences in the "translation" of EU law into the domestic legal orders. The focus herein will be on the different "styles" of national administrative institutions, which are not only the result of legal traditions and different political and administrative institutions, but are also based on informal administrative routines and "Standard Operating Procedures". The latter are rarely considered, although they are a considerable resource that national administrations draw upon in order to cope with the challenges of the European Administrative Space.

For this purpose we will refer to the concept of "Administrative styles", which was developed as part of an integrated DFG project on the Administrative Styles in International Organizations. As part of this project, among others, the specific styles of European institutions during the initiation, formulation and implementation of EU policies were identified and their causes and consequences explored. Building upon these findings, the present project explores both the manner of harmonization and the conflicts existing between the "European style" and the domestic administrative styles. Thus the project does not follow or replicate existing Europeanization or Compliance research as they focus on the institutional "Fit/Misfit" and the different constellations of actor and interests within the EU member states to explain differences in the transposition and implementation of EU law. Rather, the present project places its attention on the leeway in the transposition and implementation of EU law.

The project's objective is to carry out empirical case studies on the implementation of EU policies in three policy areas that include different policy types: regulative policy (using the example of environmental policy), distributive policy (using the example of structural policy) and social-regulative policy (using the example of asylum policy). The empirical case studies are to concentrate on concrete policies in order to work out informal routines and their interrelation to the legal order. With Germany, the United Kingdom and France, whose different administrative styles have already been explored in the literature, major European administrative models are selected and will be compared to each other. Depending on the available resources, a Scandinavian and/or Southern European example could also give interesting insights.

The existing research's finding that established national routines, which are only partially legally defined, could create an obstacle for the discovery and realization of leeway offers important institutional and political implications: By the systematic comparison of many European states "Best Practices" of the "translation" of European politics into the national contexts can be identified. Especially in Germany, the reflexive process of the "styles critic" can lead to a continued process of learning within the political and administrative system. One can ask whether leeway is sufficiently anticipated during the initiation and implementation of EU law and which capacities the member states provide for this purpose. Concerning the implementation, it can be asked whether the negotiating style of the EU Commission could be transferred to the EU member states, even if this conflicts with the domestic implementation styles. It is the objective of this project to make domestic decision-makers aware of the de facto leeway and the possibility of a more flexible adaptation to the requirements of the European Administrative Space.

Senior Fellow

Prof. Dr. Stephan Grohs



Benjamin Gröbe M.A.



Niclas Beinborn M.A.