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Political Research Exchange

In the name of the People: Legal Mobilisation against EU Acts

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Abstract
This paper examines variation in actor ownership of complaints against EU acts before European constitutional courts. It aims to answer the question: to what extent do relational variables inform legal mobilisation against EU acts? It argues that while actor-level attributes and institutional structure affect legal mobilisation, they have to be analysed in the context of ‘relational variables’. Suggesting that partnership or opposition among actors and between actors and institutional gatekeepers inform strategic choices, it provides an inclusive theoretical framework for analysis. The advantage of looking at the process through the lens of actors’ interactions is that it allows us to analyse actor-level and structural variables without concentrating on one at the expense of the other.
Employing a mixed-method approach of descriptive statistical analysis and comparative case study research, it adds to the empirical agenda by capturing cross-national and actor-type variation in legal mobilisation. Examining actor ownership of constitutional litigation is relevant for our research agenda in several ways. As the stakes of constitutional proceedings are high, the court’s decision is usually the outcome analysed. Yet, given the potential gravity of courts’ judgements, it is important to learn more about who the complainants are and how they devise litigation strategies. Although constitutional complaints against EU acts represent a small part of the total universe of legal mobilisation, the consequences of the rulings apply directly to a large number of people. Overall, this paper makes an effort to expand the existing theoretical foundations for thinking about the mechanisms of legal mobilisation. It aims at not only capturing factors that may constrain or encourage litigation per se but also factors that inform actors’ choices in the process.
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