Best and worst practices of responsibility sharing in the European multi-level system

Responsibility sharing, shifting of responsibility and irresponsibility
Research field 2

As a result of the polycrisis of the European Union, individual integration steps (the currency union, the area of freedom, security and law, Dublin Regulation and Schengen Area, freedom of movement for workers, state aids and economic support policy, environmental, transport and climate protection policy) as well as membership in the European Union (Brexit) are being quite fundamentally questioned in an increasing number of member states, also by political majorities.
The causes of these crises are in many cases attributed one-sidedly to the European Union and its executive bodies. As a result, countries' own- and co-responsibility (which can also consist in not being open to consistent further development of the European Union or only cooperating inadequately in the implementation of the Union's policies) for these crises is left in the dark. This can lead to a dangerous overestimation of the countries' own political-administrative skills competence. This is clearly evident in the internal Brexit process, which appears to be calling the effectiveness of the political system of the United Kingdom overall into question. This example also shows that coping successfully with particular crises requires a clear allocation of responsibility between the Union and its member states. With hindsight, one needs to analyse whether the particular crisis was caused, reinforced or at any rate could not be effectively combated

  • by the transfer of too many, too few or the wrong competences to the executive bodies, institutions and bodies of the Union


  • by inadequate implementation of Union law by all or individual member states in all phases (transposition, implementation, enforcement)


  • by defective mutual cooperation between the member states and/or between the member states and the executive bodies, institutions and bodies of the Union.

Looking ahead, it must be clarified whether and how the areas of responsibility between the Union and member states can or have to be reallocated. Some examples of this approach can be given.

First, the question of further reform steps arises with regard to the Euro crisis, such as a "European Economic Government" in the Eurozone. This economic government is authorised to even out economic imbalances by means of social, fiscal and economic policy measures, to ensure compliance with existing fiscal policy regulations and budget controls and to reinforce the "Stability Union" or to enforce the simple abolition of the euro or the exclusion of individual member states from the Eurozone.

Secondly, in relation to the migration crisis, there is the question of the distribution of responsibility for securing the borders or for search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean between Frontex and the national border protection authorities, of tackling the basic causes of migration, reducing the migration flows and the possibility for refugees to get to Europe by legal means.

Consequently, the research field "Best and worst practices of responsibility sharing in the European multi-level system: responsibility sharing, shifting of responsibility and irresponsibility" serves to describe and analyse responsibility sharing between the Union and its member states in selected political areas from an administrative science, economic and legal perspectives. Therefore, this research is understood as a FÖV fact-finder, since it contributes to clarifying the responsibilities.


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Contact us

Prof. Dr. Stephan Grohs


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Knorr


Prof. Dr. Rahel M. Schomaker


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weiß


Dr. Yseult Marique