Two-Level Game of the Process of Compliance with the European Union Law

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-5-52-61
A. Sorbale (,
National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg), 3A, build. 1, Kantemirovskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 194100, Russian Federation

Acknowledgements. The article uses the results of the Project “Strategies and Mechanisms of Maintaining the Stability in Multi-Level Political Systems”, conducted as part of the HSE University Fundamental Research Program in 2019.

Abstract. This article seeks to reveal the role of compliance in the functioning of the European Union as a system of multi-level governance and to observe the factors determining the differentiation of EU member states by the level of compliance with the European Union law. In order to determine this level, it is necessary to concentrate on three main stages of compliance: (1) transposition of the norm, (2) implementation of the norm and (3) application of the norm. The author concludes that, within the framework of the compliance process, member states and institutions of the EU, primarily the European Commission, participate in a “two-level game”, in which they evaluate the gains and costs of choosing one or another strategy associated with the three stages of compliance. The European Union countries choose between: (1) unconditional compliance, (2) negotiation of better compliance conditions, and (3) ignoring the normative requirements for the longest possible period of time. In turn, supranational regulators, in their attempts to combat violations of the EU law, choose between the “soft” instruments of enforcement to compliance and the “hard” instruments of infringement. The choice of compliance strategies at the lower (national) level of power is determined by the following factors: (1) the level of economic development of the state, (2) the influence and role of the state within the framework of EU institutions, (3) the strength of the administrative apparatus of the state, (4) the coalition potential of the state and (5) legal fit. Thus, some states violate the European Union law intentionally (voluntary non-compliance), while the difficulties of the compliance process for other countries are determined by objective reasons of a socio-economic nature (involuntary non-compliance). In turn, the supranational level of the “two-level game” when choosing a compliance strategy is guided by both administrative and reputational motives.

Keywords: compliance, European Union, European Union law, EU member states, two-level game


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For citation:
Sorbale A. Two-Level Game of the Process of Compliance with the European Union Law. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 5, pp. 52-61.

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