Academic journal article Law and Contemporary Problems

European Administrative Proceedings

Academic journal article Law and Contemporary Problems

European Administrative Proceedings

Article excerpt



To enforce competition rules, to ensure the proper allocation of European social and agricultural funds, and to guarantee food safety, the European Commission ("Commission") exercises powers of inspection, supervision, and monitoring. In this first arena--enforcing competition law--the Commission has the power to use its own agents to carry out inspections. But in other arenas, it cannot always act directly. Overseeing the proper allocation of European social and agricultural funds is, for example, the task of national administrations; the Commission's role is only supervisory. And administrative tasks regarding food safety are shared: the Commission and national governments together monitor food safety according to principles and criteria established by the Commission. These three examples demonstrate how European administrative organs and procedures have adapted to the new administrative and legislative landscape of the European Union ("Union").

Initially, only certain types of administration were handled exclusively by the European Community ("Community")--specifically, competition law and state subsidies. This is what is known as "direct administration." Implementation of agricultural measures, by contrast, fell to national authorities acting under Community control. Administration in the agriculture area is one example of what is known as "indirect administration." (1)

Later, other organizational models developed, based on collaboration between the Commission and individual national administrations. Only recently have scholars begun to identify and classify these forms of cooperation. (2)

The first form is joint administration. This form is characterized by a single policy objective, pursued within a supranational, Community legal framework and implemented by a hybrid--part supranational, part national--administrative apparatus. The administration of structural funds is an example of this form of cooperation.

The second form is decentralized administration. This is characterized by parallel, non-exclusive legal powers vested in both the Community and the Member States, together with a single administrative apparatus--a European agency. An example of this form of administration can be found in European efforts to combat drugs and drug addiction.

The third form is the regulatory concert--national and supranational authorities make up a common organization. In the telecommunications sector, for example, the heads of Member State regulatory authorities are members of a "European Regulatory Group" in Brussels.

The European Union is replete with many modes of combining organizations and activities, both vertically and horizontally. These forms of composition give rise to what has been termed "common systems," which refers to the two levels of administration--the supranational and the national--taken together. (3) This expression was used in Council Regulation 1334/2000 of 22 June 2000 on the export of dual-use items. (4)

Common administrative systems are first an administrative reflection of the collective, (5) or consociational, (6) nature of European government, whereby supranational administration enters national administrative activities, and national administrations likewise enter supranational activities. Second, common systems help to reconcile complicated, conflicting, but interconnected interests. Third, common systems perform the twofold mission of the Union. The Union serves, on the one hand, as an arm of national executives, which make their voices heard at the European level mainly through the Council of the European Union and the European Council. On the other hand, the Union operates as a mechanism for keeping national executives under control. This is mainly the concern of the Commission and the Court of Justice. Without common systems, this twofold mission of the European Union would be very difficult, if not impossible. …

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