In This Issue

Published date01 May 2016
Date01 May 2016
In This Issue
Harlow revisits and resets the debate on accountability and transparency in European law.
Hers is a cautiously nuanced but critically accurate assessment of the transformation of
the system of European governance in the last decade and a half. There have been some
improvements, largely stemming from plaintiffs bringi ng and winning cases before the
European Court of Justice. But one can also observe a slow improvement in the daily
administrative routines of the European Commission. Still, to say it in Harlowsvery cal-
ibrated words,praiseworthy though these changesmay be, they are micro-changes, which
do not reect any willingness to cede real institutional power or true accountability.That
is indeed the heartof the matter, or to be more precise, the constitutional heart of the mat-
ter. The crises or the ongoing negotiations of mega-tradeagreements (outstandingly, the
TTiP) are clear symptoms of the extent to which Euro pean institutions remai n deeply
unaccountable, despite (or perhaps, I would add, thanks to) the positive microdevelop-
ments. Harlow rightly stresses that there is nothing really surprising about this state of
affairs. Transparency and accountability gains are never gracious concessions but have
to be extracted by sustained and astute political action. It would not be naïve, but rather
suicidal, to indeed expect that the European Union would be an exception to the rule.
Goldoni analyses the constitutional bases and implications of the Spitzenkandidaten
episode. As the reader will surely remember, quite a number of scholars, politicians and
pundits toutesconfondues claimed that if eachof the political parties contending in the Eu-
ropean Parliamentelections would announce who they would support as President of the
Commission,and indeed the nominated would be thecandidate of the most voted party,a
major step would have been taken towards the democratisation of the European Union.
Goldoni argues that suchexpectations failed to take seriously not onlythe foreseeable so-
ciological dynamic, but also the normative conundrums at thecore of present composite
European constitution. But while the debates around the Spitzenkandidaten episode may
be said to have been hardly fruitful in terms of transforming Europes constitution, they
are revealing of the intricacies of the prevailing constitutional theories of European inte-
gration and European law.
Europesprotractednancial, economic, scal and political crises have not been over-
come at the time of writing. When this issue hits the press, nine years will have elapsed
since the European Central Bank adopted the rst measures aimed at cont aining what
would become the present existential crisis of the European Union. If the Eurozone crises
seem less pressingnow is largely because a new waveof crises has hit the old continent.By
spring 2016, it is no longer an overstatement to afrm that the massive ow of migrants
trying to enter Europe from Syria, Libyaand other war zones has become a huge human-
itarian crisis. The inow has ex posed not only the shaky ins titutional and normat ive
grounds on which free movement of persons was built but also what starts to look like
an ontological propensity of the EU to fail to come t o terms with reality. The latter is
reected in the colossal disproportion between the estimations of the refugees tha t will
be knocking at Europes doors (for example, in the two emergency reallocation mecha-
nisms) and the actual gures. Perhaps even mo re fundamentally, the refugee crisis has
revealed the many tensions an d contradictions at the core o f the relationship between
individual rights, collective goods and public power in European law. If postwar Europe
(and not merely the European Union) was built on fundamental principles can be apltly
summarised as thoushalt not oppress the stranger, as Joseph Weilerclaimed some years
European LawJournal, Vol. 22, No. 3, May 2016, pp. 270272.
© 2016 John Wiley & SonsLtd. 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford,OX4 2DQ, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden,MA 02148, USA

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