Despite western Europe's traditional disdain for the United States' "adversarial legalism," the European Union is shifting toward a very similar approach to the law, according to Daniel Kelemen. Coining the term "eurolegalism" to describe the hybrid that is now developing in Europe, he shows how the political and organizational realities of the EU make this shift inevitable.
The model of regulatory law that had long predominated in western Europe was more informal and cooperative than its American counterpart. It relied less on lawyers, courts, and private enforcement, and more on opaque networks of bureaucrats and other interests that developed and implemented regulatory policies in concert. European regulators chose flexible, informal means of achieving their objectives, and counted on the courts to challenge their decisions only rarely. Regulation through litigation-central to the U.S. model-was largely absent in Europe.
But that changed with the advent of the European Union. Kelemen argues that the EU's fragmented institutional structure and the priority it has put on market integration have generated political incentives and functional pressures that have moved EU policymakers to enact detailed, transparent, judicially enforceable rules-often framed as "rights"-and back them with public enforcement litigation as well as enhanced opportunities for private litigation by individuals, interest groups, and firms.
This clearly argued and exhaustively researched book makes an important and original contribution to our understanding of the legal impact of the EU. It deserves to be carefully read not only by those interested in the development of European institutions, but by students of comparative legal studies.
Eurolegalism is one of the most important books ever written on the European Court of Justice and the European Union's legal system. It may, in fact, be the best book.
This book…serves as a useful introduction to the subject. And by demonstrating the flexibility and sophistication of European law, it poses a challenge to skeptics who, perhaps encouraged by recent headlines, believe that the EU is an insubstantial and inessential organization likely to collapse in the face of economic crisis.
Eurolegalism thoughtfully applies Robert A. Kagan's concept of 'adversarial legalism' to the EU and its evolving legal institutions. This clearly written, up-to-date volume does an excellent job of arguing that the EU's fragmented political structures and ambitious policy objectives lead to coordination and enforcement by courts (especially the European Court of Justice) that rely on detailed regulations in place of the old model of national regulators that rely on ongoing but informal relationships… Eurolegalism is a boon to scholars and teachers of comparative law and law and society.
The book is quite simply wonderful. Kelemen weaves together clear concepts, big macro level changes, and a deep understanding of EU politics and the regulatory politics in the issue areas he studies. The book is of obvious interest for scholars interested in the globalization of law, the rise of adversarial legalism, administrative law in Europe, European integration, and securities regulation, competition policy, and disability rights politics. But the book should also have a larger resonance.
What Daniel Kelemen shows is that this legal tide is both qualitatively different from previous law-making and, paradoxically, given the expressed intent of most European policymakers to avoid U.S.-style litigation practices, is distinctly American in style.
Kelemen's ambitious survey of the spread of adversarial legalism across Europe offers a compelling account of the way in which the EU's instrumentalisation of litigation as a regulatory technique has transformed the European legal field.
R. Daniel Kelemen has written a superb book that deserves wide readership… It will obviously interest students of the European Union. Kelemen's arguments, however, transcend the book's subject matter. They simultaneously engage fundamental issues concerning the relationship between law and society as well as macro-level theories of state-building and judicialization. Oddly enough, this book merits attention from socio-legal scholars with an interest in the ways in which legal rules shape human behavior and comparativist political scientists who are interested in large-scale processes of political development.
European studies specialists, comparative legal scholars, and political economists will find this a fascinating read. Given that legalization processes are increasingly defining politics around the globe, Kelemen's book is without a doubt essential reading for our time.
- 378 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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