Ideological Basis of Accountability and Review of the EU Institutions

Jaanika Erne |

I had the possibility to open a new course HOL6026 „Accountability and Review of the EU Institutions“ at the Tallinn University of Technology yesterday (15th of February) which course addresses mainly three aspects of accountability – 1) political accountability, 2) judicial review and 3) administrative supervision of EU institutions, bodies, and agencies. The course is supposed to consist of 9 lectures.

For the literature have tried to combine chapters in the to my mind most determining books on EU law – on the one hand concerning what EU law is written by professor at King’s College London – Alexander Türk (who was the supervisor of my Masters Dissertation defended at King’s in 2008 on conferral of powers by states on international organizations) in cooperation with professor Gerard Röwe from Viadrina University Frankfurt am Mainz (I had the possibility to attend a summer course on human rights there in 2009) and professor Herwig Hoffmann: Administrative Law and Policy of the European Union (Oxford University Press, 2011), and written by professors Andrea Biondi and Piet Eeckhout (who with professor Alexander Türk were responsible for consulting my PhD dissertation on EU legal remedies system at King’s College last semester): EU Law after Lisbon (Oxford University Press, 2012). I think that the CEL at King’s College is a very leading European research centre for EU law.

I also selected some Chapters from authors directly connected with New York School of Law – Paul Craig, Grainne de Burca, and Carol Harlow from the books: The Evolution of EU Law (Oxford University Press, 2011) and the newly revised edition of EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (Oxford University Press, 2011).

I added Chapters written by professors Damian Chalmers and Giorgio Monti who represent the LSE (who to my mind with their „European Union law: cases and materials“ directly compete in the best and most healthily evolutionary meaning of this word with Paul Craig’s and Grainne de Burca’s „EU law: text, cases, and materials“) in the book: European Union Law. Updating Supplement (Cambridge University Press, 2008) the aim of which book is to concisely explain the most significant changes made by the Lisbon Treaty to EU law.

On the other hand I selected Chapters from a book about what EU law ought to be with the aim to give an overview of scholars’ critical and deconstructive (and related to social and political theories) approach toward EU law, edited by Patrick Birkinshaw and Mike Varney: The European Union Legal Order after Lisbon (Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2010) for writing which book were in the year 2009 gathered together by the Institute of European Public Law of the University of Hull 16 EU law scholars – Jürgen Schwarze, John Erik Fossum, Jean-Bernard Auby, Augustin Jose Menendez, Paul Craig, Takis Tridimas, Chris Bovis, Mike Feintuck, Mike Varney, Gordon Anthony, Massimo La Torre, Diana-Urania Galetta, Patrick Birkinshaw, Jacques Ziller, John Bell, Constantinos Kombos.

All these authors to my mind represent the most wide-spread understanding of what EU law is or ought to be, and the students may agree with these views or try to find new reasoned solutions to the problems unsolved.

The nine lectures are devoted to the following topics: 1) Institutional structure of the EU (–its organization –internal structures); 2) The constitutional framework (–vertical legal regimes: constitutional acts affecting the EU, primary law, secondary law, non-legislative acts of general application -non-binding soft-law –horizontal legal regimes: protocols, accession treaties, enhanced cooperation); 3) The functions, and methods (–competences –procedures –comitology –agencies –networks –OMC –private actors –budget implementation); 4) The balance of power (-institutional interaction –interaction with Member States’ governments and civil society); 5) The forms and effects of EU institutions’ acts (–legislative acts –non-legislative acts –agenda setting –preparatory acts –planning measures –framework measures –subordinate legislation –administrative rules –private rule-making –individual decisions –administrative agreements –factual conduct); 6) Public access to EU documents (-increased transparency -interaction between Member States’ governments and EU institutions -general exceptions, specific exceptions: OLAF, the Community anti-fraud unit, the majority of the Commission’s work in competition, external trade relations, management of the EU’s expenditure -overriding public interest in disclosure -double function of the transparency principle -distinction between past and ongoing procedures -Case T-237/02: Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau vs. Commission [2006] ECR II-5131); 7) Institutional political accountability —Political accountability through the European Parliament (-European Parliament: elections to the European Parliament, accountability of the MEPs -European Council: composition, election of the Council’s President, end of the President’s term of office -Council of the European Union: composition (incl. configurations) -European Commission: appointment of the members of the Commission, resignment of a Member of the Commission, responsibility of the Commission before the European Parliament –High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: appointment of the HR FASP, resignment of the HR FASP, responsibility of the HR FASP before the Commission) —Maladministration of EU institutions and political accountability through the European Ombudsman —Political accountability through the European Council and the Council of Ministers —Political accountability within the multi-level system; 8 ) Judicial review over EU institutions (-judicial responsibility for breach of EU law -non-contractual liability for damages of EU institutions -Case C-344/04: IATA [2006] ECR I-403 -Case C-352/98P: Bergaderm [2000] ECR I-5291); 9) Administrative supervision (–within the EU administration: supervision within the Commission, supervision of agencies –independent supervision within the EU administration: the European Court of Auditors, OLAF, the European Human Rights Agency, the European Data Protection Supervisor). The essence and future of integrated execution.

Maybe I should take case-study out of the Syllabus of the course.

And maybe the course could solely concentrate on the three last lecture topics – political accountability, judicial review, and administrative supervision?

I think about that. I have integrated the first 6 topics because of the Lisbon changes and because they pave the way for understanding the core issues related to accountability, such as – who exactly is accountable, for what, and through which mechanisms …

By the end of the course the participants should know: ● public access to EU documents (as related to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU as the important legal framework for EU action); ● institutional political  accountability; ● increased judicial review over EU institutions: -judicial responsibility for breach of EU law; -non-contractual liability for damages of EU institutions; ● administrative supervision within the EU administration.

The course will end with an exam and I have worked out several fill-in-the-blanks exercises with the aim that those could assist for preparing for the exam.