Accountability in the EU
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Accountability in the EU

The Role of the European Ombudsman

Edited by Herwig C.H. Hofmann and Jacques Ziller

In the first interdisciplinary work focused on the European Ombudsman, expert observers of EU institutional affairs provide a thorough evaluation of the Ombudsman and its constitutional role, powers, activities and future potential. The book addresses the Ombudsman’s impact on accountability in the EU’s executive branch and offers new suggestions for the further development of the practice of ‘ombuds review’.
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Chapter 6: Discretion and law in the EU administration: where the courts do not enter

Joana Mendes


Recent high profile judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ESMA and Gauweiler) have endorsed the expansion of the EU’s executive powers, including of its administration. Once such powers are attributed or judicially endorsed, how far may law reach in structuring the exercise of discretion by EU administrative actors? The chapter analyses the way the EU Courts have reviewed administrative discretion in instances where they have performed a close scrutiny thereof. It argues that such review downplays the role law ought to have in structuring the exercise of administrative discretion, by overlooking the public interests that ought to be pursued by force of legal norms. By contrast, the control of discretion by the European Ombudsman illustrates a different and normatively more demanding understanding of how law may operate in relation to discretion.

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