In this issue
For quite some time now, the European Law Journal (ELJ) has been publishing calls for proposals for ‘the’annual
special issue. There is much to be said for the model: for the Journal, it ensures a competitive process and allows
for early participation, constant nurturing and quality control by the Editors; for the authors and organisers, it
provides some, rather modest, financial contribution towards workshops and such, and an arrangement for
publication in a prestigious outlet that should make research funders and University promotion committees happy.
The model may have lost some of its relevance, however. We often get approached with proposals for special
issues at much later stages in the proceedings than the model assumes: when the ‘big conference’is long done, when
the first drafts are already in, when the first round of peer review among the participants has already been conducted,
or even when the follow‐up workshop has already taken place. To be clear, there is nothing at all wrong with this
type of proposal, and we are more than happy to engage with it: sending out the papers for peer review, encouraging
cross‐talk between the various papers, shielding the organisers from the unpleasant task of having to bring bad news
to authors who do not make the cut, and making room in the publication schedule. This type of proposal renders us
more passive in the early stages than the model assumes, but it also gives us more editorial leeway in the later stages.
There is, surely, room for both kinds of ‘special issues’in the ELJ and more. Our fear is that ‘type II' proposals
drown out ‘type I' proposals in our calls for special issues. Type II proposals are generally based on adequate funding
from elsewhere, and they are generally organised, led and populated by well‐established scholars. They are not, in
other words, proposals in obvious need of the ELJ's resources.
We want to make sure we leave space for intellectually ambitious and adventurous projects that might not have
been endowed with all of the above. We have hence adapted our call for proposals to make clear that we will give
preference to proposals most likely to benefit the most from the ELJ's support. We would expect this to be the case
for projects from younger scholars, perhaps from less established institutions, with topics and approaches that may
lie outside the received canons of European law.
This arrangement will not only, we hope, lead to a better allocation of the ELJ's resources, but will also leave us
free to engage with other proposals and projects on a rolling basis.
The current issue is yet another kind of ‘special issue’. Partly by coincidence, partly by orchestrations on our part,
all the papers deal with European judicial cooperation, dialogue, and confrontation. The judicial empowerment thesis
has dominated thinking about judicial cooperation in the European Union for decades now. In its more romantic
iterations, the idea is that lower national courts have used the preliminary reference procedure in defiance of national
judicial hierarchies and settled political preferences to take advantage of their position as ‘European courts’,
empowered and encouraged by the CJEU because of the direct access it was given to national legal systems.
Tommaso Pavone and R. Daniel Kelemen argue that this is only one part of a longer story‐line. They show how, over
time, national high courts gradually countered such institutional dynamics, and reasserted themselves over lower
courts. This is, they claim, the Act II of an ongoing play, one the CJEU, happy to engage with the (fewer) top‐hierarchy
courts, also favoured. The upshot of this shift is multiple: high courts get to influence the development of EU law, the
uniform application of EU law may be easier to achieve, but excessively centralised dialogue may limit access of
private parties to EU law enforcement and may be more prone to political capture.
Juan Mayoral takes another stab at the judicial empowerment thesis, courageously looking for remedies for its
methodological poverty and for ways to overcome its limited explanatory power: going beyond mere statistics on
350 © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2019;25:350–351.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/eulj