ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

EfSoLaw: a New Data Set on the Evolution of Soft Law in the European Union

European Union
Regulation
Methods
Quantitative
Comparative Perspective
Bartolomeo Cappellina
Université Grenoble-Alpes
Bartolomeo Cappellina
Université Grenoble-Alpes

Abstract

This paper is part of a research interested in the way in which EU norms vary concerning their binding nature and the enforcement mechanisms that ensure compliance with them under the continuum that goes from hard to soft law. We distinguish soft law norms as those having non-binding objectives, guidelines, standards, incentives combined with soft enforcement, or legal instruments not controlled by an independent authority. EU policy combines hard and soft law instruments and their proportion varies among policy areas and over time. What is the proportion of soft law in different policy sectors and what does that imply for EU law on a multilevel policy framework? This paper addresses these questions through the presentation of a new data set: EfSoLaw. Complementary to previous databases created on EU hard law (e.g. EUDIFF, EvoEU) and to qualitative comparisons of EU soft law across policy fields (e.g. SoLaR), this data set reunites for the first time scattered data on legal acts from various sources (EUR-Lex, DGs and EU agencies archives) proposing an organised and refined coding of the evolution of EU soft law acts (e.g. recommendations, resolutions, guidelines, notices…) in seven different policy sectors over a fifteen years span (2004-2019). The policy sectors cover different patterns in the relationship between EU policy-making and the nature of interests generated by the policy problems. The data set is composed of more than 7000 acts of hard and soft law in the policy sectors of police and judicial cooperation, common foreign and security policy, state aid policy, pharmaceutical regulation, food security regulation, financial regulation and sustainable agriculture policy. The paper presents the main tendencies in the data set concerning the ratio of hard to soft law, the actors involved in soft law elaboration and its addressees, the function of soft law (steering, procedural or explanatory). All these variables will be compared over time and for each policy sector, giving a valuable base to study further aspects of EU multilevel policy activity. Legislative, judicial and policy scholars can use this data set in the study of European and national policy processes involving the adoption, implementation and enforcement of EU Law.