structures andprocesses functionally orientedto implement EU laws and policies.
law of such a composite system, EU administrative law has developed as a complex web
of EU and nationalprinciples, rules and practices which interact in multiple ways and are
increasingly subject to the inﬂuence of international law. EU legal scholarship has often
celebrated this state of affairs as oneleading towards the gradual convergence of EU and
national norms which moreover enhances the effectiveness of the implementation
processes. But one should recognise that the ongoing process of convergence ismuch less
balanced than it is usually assumed to be. EU administrative law has not been able to
reconcile the competing claims of promotion of administrative convergence and protec-
tion of diversity.
A second problem concernsthe tasks dischargedby EU administrativelaw. Throughout
its history, EU administrative law has developed as a multi-purpose project, oriented both
to power-development and power-checking. This development has been sustained and
welcomed by EU legal scholarship, often within the context of a representation of the
European legal order as a legal and institutional space in which both the techniques of
administrative action and the instruments of administrative control are particularly
advanced and sophisticated. Yet EU administrative law is underdeveloped in two impor-
tant regards: on what concerns the recognition of the relevance and role of administrative
discretion,and regardingaccountability, whichis not operationalisedthrough fully accom-
plished regimes. In the almost seven decades of its history, EU administrative law has not
really clariﬁed the statusof discretionary powerand the role to be played by accountability
regimes. Thiscompromises the capacity of European administrative law to steer power.
A third problem relates to the instability of administrative behaviour. EU administra-
tive law has not developed as a body of law aimed at determining the patterns of action
and behaviour capable of stabilising the conducts of EU administrationsand private per-
sons. EU administrative statutesoften raise uneasy questions of interpretation, even in sec-
tors in which clear and precise rules would be particularly useful. Moreover, EU
administrativelaws often accept and even promote theconsolidation of diverging admin-
istrative practices. In certain instances, EU administrative law also favours that EU ad-
ministrations produce unpredictable outcomes, even in ﬁelds of economic and social
regulation where such an outcome is bound to be deeply counterproductive. In all these
instances, EU administrative law renounces to stabilise the patterns of behaviour of EU
administrations and private actors. EU legal scholarship has rarely reﬂected on this fea-
ture of EU administrative law. Yet instability of administrative behaviour is not at all a
neutral phenomenon. It is an ambivalent force, which may either favour the
rationalisation of administrative relationships or alternatively produce disruptive effects.
By passively accepting instability,EU administrative law proves unable to keepthe short-
comings of instability under control.
This article aims at exploring these three problems, their causes and their implications.
A key thesis I will be holding is that the recurrent character of these problems constitutes
solid evidenceof the fact that EU administrative law isfailing to perform some of the cru-
cial tasks it should bedischarging, and more speciﬁcally the following three: (1) ﬁnding a
balance between administrative convergence and administrative diversity within the EU
legal system, (2) structuring administrative power and its exercise, and (3) governing ad-
ministrativeinstability. My overall perspective, however, doesnot intend to be merely de-
scriptive—something like ‘here are the problems, but it is not for me to provide the
For an explanation of this understanding of the EU administrative system, see E. Chiti, ‘La costruzionedel
sistema amministrativo europeo’,inM.P.Chiti(ed.),Diritto amministrativoeuropeo (Giuffrè, 2013)45–88.
European Law Journal Volume 22