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The Economics of Harmonizing European Law

Edited by Alain Marciano and Jean-Michel Josselin

One of the major effects of the continual process of European integration is the growing importance of transnational institutions and the accompanying legal harmonization. Such institutional changes have led to a seemingly irreversible transformation in public decision making, whereby power at the national level is displaced to the European and regional levels. This essential book provides a law and economics analysis of the challenges arising from these shifts in authority.
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Chapter 11: Enlargement of the European Union and the Approximaton of Law: lessons from an economic theory of optimal legal areas

Dieter Schmidtchen, Alexander Neunzig and Hans-Jörg Schmidt-Trenz


11. Enlargement of the European Union and the Approximation of Law: lessons from an economic theory of optimal legal areas Dieter Schmidtchen, Alexander Neunzig and Hans-Jörg Schmidt-Trenz 11.1 INTRODUCTION Enlargement of the European Union means extending the area in which Union Law rules. As the Commission in its ‘Agenda 2000. For a stronger and wider Union’ declares, new members have to ‘take on the rights and obligations of membership on the basis of the acquis as it exists at the time of accession; they will be expected to apply, implement and enforce the acquis upon accession; in particular the measures necessary for the extension of the single market should be applied immediately’ (Bulletin of the European Union, Supplement 5/97, p. 52). Currently, several applicant countries, among them Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, try to meet this challenge with the assistance of the European Commission. If the European Union were only an economic entity, then the determination of the optimal size would seem to be an easy task: it should be as large as possible (see also Gros and Steinherr 1995, p. 503). But for the European Union as a legal area things might look different: presumably, its optimum size is neither one member state, nor is it all states in the world with their heterogeneous preferences, different income levels, and specific cultural and legal histories. But where exactly should the Union border be drawn? This chapter addresses the enlargement issue from the point of view of the economic...

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