Category Archives: Actors

Enforcement of intellectual property rights: pioneering in private enforcement

European law plays a major role in the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The innovative rules and practices developed by the EU in this area provide a wide range of enforcement tools and introduce a European system of enforcement principles. In this post, the sixth in RENFORCE Blog’s special series on the enforcement of EU law, Peter Blok explains that intellectual property law is therefore a rich source for the study and further development of European law enforcement in general and private law enforcement in particular. 

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Towards Better Enforcement of EU Chemicals Rules: The 2020 Commission Strategy and the Registration of Chemicals

EU chemicals policy has been one of the most ambitious and detailed areas of the EU regulatory polity. In part five of RENFORCE Blog’s special series on the enforcement of EU law, Leander Stähler addresses a concrete challenge to enforcing these rules – the registration of chemicals – and highlights the potential of the Commission’s new strategy.

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The case of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and the complex enforcement of EU medicines policy

Based on the member states’ responses to the rare but severe side effects of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, one might be tempted to believe that there is no common approach to enforcing European Union (EU) medicines policy. In this post, the fourth in a special RENFORCE Blog series on the enforcement of EU law, Laurens van Kreij takes a more nuanced look at medicines policy’s complexities, and explains why the national responses were able to diverge so strongly. He thinks the chances of rapid and major change are slim.

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Access to justice and EU enforcement agencies in the field of migration: an emerging problem

In this post, part of a special RENFORCE Blog series on the enforcement of EU law, Salvatore Nicolosi acknowledges the potential of EU migration agencies to support Member States in enforcing EU rules, but explains how an enhanced form of EU law enforcement through agencies should not be detrimental to the legal guarantees of migrants.

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The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime: How to Enforce Member States’ Compliance with Travel Bans?

In this second post in RENFORCE Blog’s special series on enforcement, Cedric Ryngaert highlights the Commission’s unsuccessful attempts to expand its limited enforcement powers over travel bans in the context of the recent adoption of the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. If centralized EU-level enforcement of travel bans is desirable, how might it be secured: through treaty change, or political pressure?

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DMA: a step forward in ensuring swift intervention in the digital sector but flexibility is key

Carla Farinhas

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Competition law enforcement takes too long

The Commission has heavily fined large technology companies for breach of competition rules in recent years. However, it is common ground that the protection of competition in the digital sector is at risk. There are gaps in the existing rules, but one of the main difficulties is the fast-changing pace of digital markets which is at odds with the time it takes to complete case-by-case full-fledged investigations.

Cases that take years to decide risk being all for naught if the practices harm competition in an irreparable manner while the investigation is ongoing. However, streamlining investigations in the digital sector is not easy. Cases tend to raise new and complex issues and the authorities always need to gather solid evidence to prove that the rules have been breached and follow due process.

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The DSA and future enforcement of EU consumer protection law

Bram Duivenvoorde

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

On 15 December 2020, the draft Digital Services Act (DSA) was published by the European Commission. The DSA will regulate digital services that act as intermediaries, connecting consumers with goods, services and content. Amongst other goals, the DSA aims to provide better protection to consumers online and should lead to a fairer digital market. What will the DSA mean for the future enforcement of consumer protection law through and against platforms? These are my initial thoughts on this topic.

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First Impressions of Google AdSense Decision

By Viktorija Morozovaite

The Google AdSense decision has come out on the 20th of March, 2019. With imposition of €1.49 billion fine it marked an end to the third European Commission’s investigation into tech giant’s practices, each resulting in spectacular penalties (together rounding up to €8.2 billion – a sum equivalent to Benelux countries’ annual contribution to the EU budget) and advancing the debate between competition practitioners and academics worldwide. Admittedly, the outcome did not come as a surprise to many – over the past decade, European Commission seem to have become the nemesis of giant tech companies with investigations into practices of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. While the full decision is not published yet and it is difficult to comment on its merits, this blog post aims at distilling some of the ongoing issues, placing the decision in the broader context.

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Brexit and the ways forward for the UK and EU agencies

By Lisette Mustert, Béla Strauss, Miroslava Scholten and Matthew Wood

Brexit raises the question of which way forward for the UK in its relationship with the EU and with EU agencies. For future research and legislative design, this in turn raises a more fundamental question of when which type of agreement between a third country and EU agencies is appropriate, in light of  factors such as salience and the interests on both sides. Having analysed all EU agencies’ founding acts, we show in this post that there are three types of formal relationships that exist at this moment between EU agencies and other countries: full membership, observership and cooperation. We argue that the type of this relationship would vary for the UK depending on the score of ‘Brexit salience’, a concept that we introduce. The higher the ‘Brexit salience’ rating is, the more formal the arrangement – full membership or observer – the UK (and the EU) would need to have with an EU agency. According to our scores, this would concern the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In the case of EU agencies that score low on our salience rating, the UK (and the EU) would want to opt for a relatively limited form of cooperation with EU agencies. This would be the case for Cepol, EIGEACERFrontex and CPVO. Surprisingly, the seemingly highly salient agency in the public debate – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (also known as Frontex) – scores the joint lowest rating. How is this possible, when for the UK immigration is so important during the Brexit vote? It is because, first, our Brexit salience measures do not focus on what is salient in general for the British or European public. Rather, we are concerned with practical matters of policy implementation. As a matter of policy, Frontex has a clear and well-resourced opposite agency – the UK Border Agency – and its operation does not affect a discrete and well-defined policy area.

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Appointment of EU agency directors

EU agencies’ number and powers have grown tremendously in the recent years. Despite the so-called Meroni ‘non-delegation’ doctrine, EU agencies perform a wide range of tasks. They can contribute to or pass (soft) rules of general applications and impose sanctions for violation of EU laws vis-à-vis private actors (Scholten and Luchtman 2017). The increase of powers and hence impact of EU agencies on society raises the urge for legitimising these institutions. One of the major ways to legitimize institutions is establishing proper governance structures and ensuring suitable top-level officials who manage agencies and bare responsibility for agencies’ performance. In this blog post, we offer a comprehensive evaluation of EU agency directors’ functions and appointment procedures and requirements. We show that the appointed directors fit the profiles of EU agencies that they head well, nevertheless we quest the necessity of the existing excessive variety of appointment procedures (12!), which in our view hinders legitimacy. Continue reading