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The Enforcement of EU LawThe Role of the European Commission$
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Stine Andersen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645442

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645442.001.0001

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The Commission’s General Powers of Enforcement

The Commission’s General Powers of Enforcement

(p.13) 1 The Commission’s General Powers of Enforcement
The Enforcement of EU Law

Stine Andersen

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a general introduction to the general EU infringement procedure and discusses the political conditions underpinning it. It proceeds as follows. First, it outlines Article 88 the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and then discusses the in practice important tradition of friendly settlements according to Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Commission can employ its general enforcement powers as a tool to pursue policy objectives more broadly. The penultimate section examines the political conditions underpinning the general infringement procedure's modus operandi. It is argued that the relatively weak powers of the Commission and the drawn-out procedure reflects member state governments' call for flexibility in the implementation phase and hence in the enforcement phase. At the same time, the weaker powers of the Commission are offset by its wide margin of discretion. The Commission shall exercise this discretion with political tact. Its task is to ensure the delicate balance between supervising compliance, on the one hand, and sustaining diplomatic relations with the individual member states, on the other. Both dimensions are important per se and for the EU policy process more widely. The Commission is thus handling a complex, semi-political, semi-legal task. This is reflected in the notion of effectiveness discussed in the final section.

Keywords:   EU infringement procedures, European Coal and Steel Community, TFEU, European Commission, member states

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