The Impact of European Case Law on Local Authorities: Between Policy Implementation and Shaping

Marius Guderjan, Prof Dr Gerhard Dannemann

Public authorities and courts across different levels and European Member States are interlocked in a complicated system of shared jurisdiction. Cities, counties and municipalities take a central role in the implementation of European legislation and policies. EU Directives and Regulations have a direct impact on the local practice, particularly in the fields of public procurement, state aid, human resources management, the provision of services of general interest, housing, building and spatial planning. The combination of legal compliance and policy implementation puts local authorities in a position between executing and shaping actors in Europe's multilevel system. Differences in administrative structures and a growing legal complexity have created some uncertainty and frustration about the implementation of EU law within local government. In the new millennium, European case law had to clarify EU legislation in the fields of municipal service provision, inter-municipal cooperation and compensation payments to providers of public service. The paper will examine EU legislation that have challenged existing municipal practice and subsequent judgments that have impacted on EU policy implementation and making. The paper will focus on: first, in- and out-of-court channels of conflict resolution; secondly, how local authorities have been able to feed back into EU policies; thirdly, individual and cooperative action of various types of actors and institutions in European-local litigation. The legal interplay of different levels, arenas and actors helps understanding the ongoing transformation of Europe's legal and political multilevel system.

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