Andreas Hofmann

Universiteit Leiden

Here is an overview of publication projects I am currently working on.

In several publication projects I am looking at different mechanisms of enforcing EU law – the Commission’s infringement procedure and private litigation in national courts (which only sometimes gets referred to the Court of Justice). In particular, I am interested in how the two mechanisms interrelate. Over the last years, the Commission has started less and less infringement proceedings and sent less and less cases to court. In the same period, private litigants have gained greater access to national courts, through various ‘accesss to justice’ initiatives supported by the Commission. I wonder what the likely effects of this ‘outsourcing’ of enforcement are on the effectiveness of EU law ‘on the ground’.

I am also interested in what objectives litigants pursue when they mobilize EU law. This concerns both the Commission and private litigants.

Together with my colleague Daniel Naurin I am working on a cross-national comparison of interest group litigation. Based on extensive survey data from seven European countries, we test some micro-level explanations for legal mobiliation, focusing on interest group resources, legal consciousness and outsider status.

There are a number of studies (including my PhD thesis) that highlight to what extend the Commission can pursue political objectives through legal proceedings. However, most of these are case studies that focus on exceptional cases. Together with my colleagues Markus Johansson and Olof Larsson I study of how often and under what conditions the Commission makes use of this strategy.

Private litigants are at the source of the increasing relevance of law and courts in conflict resolution in Europe, a development that has been termed ‘Eurolegalism’ by Daniel Kelemen. Some of this litigation has challenged the fundamentals of national political economies, such as collective bargaining and the right to strike – with at times surprising success. In a project with Olaf Deinert we investigate under what circumstances the CJEU is more likely to protect national social standards in such litigation.

Much debate has focused on the apparent market-liberal bias in EU law, but there is less attention to what objectives the actual litigants pursue. The literature on varieties of capitalsm suggests that employers should be equally intersted in upholding their ‘institutional foundations of comparative advantage’. Why would employers then take to the courts to undermine them? I pursue this question by taking a closer look at the litigants in a series of recent controversial cases.

After spending much time thinking about how private litigants can access courts I have become more interested in what happens to a conflict once it has ended up in court, and what that does to other ways of solving conflicts. In particular, it occurred to me that efforts to reach consensual solutions through tools of participatory democracy, such as extensive consultations and stakeholder committees, are severly undercut if participants in such participatory fora can simply go to court in case they dislike the outcome. We currently see a drastic expansion of ‘access to justice’ for citizen groups at the same time as participatory fora are increasingly advocated for conflict resolution. Both trends expand citizen influence, but they may contradict one another if used in one and the same conflict.