R. Daniel Kelemen


On his book Eurolegalism: The Transformation of Law and Regulation in the European Union

Cover Interview of September 18, 2011

The wide angle

In a sense, Eurolegalism is a book about how the EU attempts to govern and what impact it has on its member countries.

Critics like to rail against the EU’s supposedly massive bureaucracy. In fact, the EU’s bureaucracy is tiny—with around 25,000 staff it is about the size of the administration of a mid-sized European city.

With a small bureaucracy like that, how can the EU hope to pursue any common policies across a Union of twenty-seven member countries and 500 million people?

The answer is that the EU relies on the rule of law. It creates many rights and other legally enforceable obligations, and then it relies national courts and interested private actors—firms, citizens, interest associations—to enforce them. But in relying so much on law, lawyers and courts, the EU is inadvertently encouraging a judicialization of policy-making processes across Europe.

I have long done research on comparative regulatory policy—comparing how the US and European democracies approach various areas of regulation, from the regulation of financial markets, to environmental protection, to consumer safety, to labor market regulation. Much of my research has also focused on the process of European legal integration—examining the role that EU law has played in the construction of Europe. This book ties together those interests.

Eurolegalism shows that the EU has developed a distinctive legal style that is transforming patterns of law and regulation across the member states.