Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law
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Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law

Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans

Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law offers a critical look into the European Union: its legal foundations, competences and institutions. It provides an analysis of the EU legal system, its application at the national level and the prevalent role of the Court of Justice. Throughout the course of the Handbook the expert contributors discuss whether the European Union is well equipped for the 21st century and the numerous crises it has to handle. They revisit the call for an EU reform made in the Laeken Conclusions in 2001 to verify if its objectives have been achieved by the Treaty of Lisbon and in daily practice of the EU institutions. The book also delves into the concept of a Europe of different speeds, which - according to some - is inevitable in the EU comprising 28 Member States. Overall, the assessment of the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty is positive, even if there are plenty of suggestions for further reforms to re-fit the EU for purpose.
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Chapter 5: European agencies: what about the institutional balance?

Michelle Everson and Ellen Vos


Over the years, European agencies have become part and parcel of the EU’s institutional landscape. Vitally, it would be impossible today to conceive of a functioning Union in the absence of European agencies, which perform key roles within integration processes, now even including, with full judicial blessing, the direct exercise of powers in order to ensure the functioning and integrity of the internal market for services. The utility of these bodies, which are currently designated decentralized agencies by the Council, Commission and Parliament within EU institutional structures, is immediately apparent. Agencies are correctly hailed as a vital element within EU efforts to establish effective governance; and are so, primarily, by virtue of their provision of expertise and concomitant ability to master complex technical and scientific issues. In addition, however, agencies are also particularly well suited to the filling in of the very particular lacunae that exist within the EU scheme of governance, furnishing highly flexible administrative capacity and regulatory efficiency, also facilitating coordination and strengthened cooperation between national authorities. They have given the European Commission a far greater degree of room to concentrate on its own core tasks and policy priorities, taking on an ever greater bundle of more mundane administrative tasks. Similarly, they provide a vital response to the need to ensure greater uniformity in the implementation of EU policies where full harmonization is a less attractive option, at the same time upholding the EU’s system of decentralized implementation.

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