Executive Power of the European Union: Law, Practices, and the Living Constitution

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2009 - Law - 345 pages
The picture of Brussels-based bureaucrats exercising wide-ranging, arbitrary executive powers with no accountability is one of the favorite images conjured by Eurosceptics across the political spectrum. What truth is there in the image? This book aims to bring the EU's executive powers out of the shadows by mapping the evolution and current form of the EU's various executive actors, their powers, and the mechanisms for holding them accountable. In doing so it provides a rich understanding of the way in which the EU's institutional and legal framework fits within national constitutional presumptions about how power should be controlled and accountability achieved.

Covering both the political executive and the administrative executive at the EU institutional level, the book analyzes their relationship with national executive power, and traces the historical evolution of executive order in Europe from the Peace of Westphalia through classic inter-governmental organizations to the allegedly unique EU framework. The book's analysis covers both the formal legal structure of the Union and the evolution of the EU's living institutions in practice. The picture presented is of a fragmented, cluttered and complex European executive space, resistant to radical constitutional reform and in need of a more nuanced understanding of the different forms of executive power required by different political aims and modes of decision-making.

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About the author (2009)


Deirdre Curtin is Professor of International and European Governance at the Utrecht School of Governance, University of Utrecht and Professor of European Law at the University of Amsterdam (since 2008). Previously she held the Chair of the Law of International Organisations at the Law Faculty in Utrecht (1992-2002) She is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy for Science (KNAW) and in 2007 was awarded the Spinoza Prize by the Dutch Academy of Science for "outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of international and European law and for her groundbreaking visions concerning the governance of international organisations such as the European Union." She has written extensively on issues relating to the constitutional and institutional development of the European Union and since 2003 has led a Research Group of political scientists and lawyers on "Enhancing Democracy in the EU" within the EU financed Network of Excellence, CONNEX.

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