Making European Policies Work – Evolving Challenges and New Approaches in EU Law Enforcement

October 2021


The EU is continuing to explore new approaches in the legal enforcement tools that it uses to ensure compliance with EU policies. The EU now combines mechanisms of public or centralised enforcement, on the one hand, with private or decentralised enforcement, on the other. It has also evolved in the last 20 years in order to find alternative and complementary enforcement tools. One key element is the principle of partnership between the EU and the Member States, involving ex ante enforcement mechanisms by which the Commission provides guidance and assistance to prevent non-compliance by Member States. Three case studies illustrate different trends and issues within this process. EU border control policy and the Schengen area show how the combination of horizontal and vertical mechanisms in a particular enforcement arrangement can evolve; horizontal cooperation and peer review continue to be valued even as the evaluation system has come to be Union-led. Competition policy is an example of the increasing importance of private enforcement through actions taken by firms, as a complement to public enforcement in ensuring effective deterrence. The EU response to the digitalised economy highlights the difficulties of using familiar enforcement tools given that new technologies challenge core concepts such as legal certainty; regulatory sandboxes are now being proposed as an innovative response.

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