Applying the rules of the European Health Union (EU-Apply)

EU-apply examines the European Health Union in the making, investigating how European Union (EU) health legislation has accumulated over time as well as its direct, but diverse, implications for rule-takers. EU Apply aims to provide a first time systematic investigation of 1) how rules are designed and adopted with an eye on subsequent application and 2) how these rules are then enacted on the ground by their target groups; the health industry, health professionals and patients.

Jordklode og stetoskop
Photo: Colourbox

We examine how diverse target groups apply EU health policies in view of their design and how motivations, resources and institutional interaction mediate such rule application.

The research is organized into two work packages (WPs).

WP1 compiles a novel data set on rule application within the field of health over time, focusing on specific component with implications for application, including their complexity and the discretion of the executive provisions.

WP2 follows those rules on to the ground. For a selected set of rules, we investigate how diverse target groups apply EU health policies in view of their design and how motivations, resources and institutional interaction mediate rule application.




This project combines and contributes to two emerging research agendas. Recent research has identified a ‘responsiveness trap’ where more policies are adopted, but less is invested in policy delivery and implementation (Adam et al. 2019; Limberg et al. 2020). In addition, EU studies take a growing interest in investigating ‘EU law in action’, the role of street-level bureaucrats and decentral enforcement to capture and explain the uneven outcomes of EU law (Börzel and Buzogány 2019; Dörrenbächer 2017; Hartlapp 2014; Martinsen et al. 2019). In combination, these approaches are useful to capture how accumulation of policies may impinge implementation in a multi-level setting. The focus here, however, remains on the regulators. EU-Apply explores the other side of the compliance relationship, shifting focus onto how the regulated experience and take up EU law when targeted by it.








The purpose of WP I is three-fold: i) It analyses the part of inter-institutional bargaining as unfolding between the European legislators and which decides on responsibilities and costs implied in rule application. In so doing, ii) the WP aims to provide a comprehensive description of the policy accumulation and the degree of complexity and discretionary executive provisions in the EU health area. iii) This mapping then informs the case selection in WP II when it analyzes the application of EU legislation by rule takers, given these provisions.















A sub-sample of regulations and directives is selected based on their degree of complexity and discretionary executive provisions. For this sub-sample, WP II then analyses target group rule application, relying on a combination of interviews and survey data. To better zoom in on the relationship between policy accumulation and application, we hold the intermediate (national) level constant by studying application in a single country; Denmark. The choice of a single country allows us to do in-depth case studies at the regulatory micro-level. However, during the course of research, the scope may be extended and compare beyond the selected member state should this prove fruitful.









  • Professor Tamara Hervey, University of London
  • Professor Abraham Newman, Georgetown University
  • Senior Research Fellow, Vibeke Wøien Hansen, Institute for Social Research, Norway
  • Professor Ellen Mastenbroek, Radboud University
  • Professor Daniel Naurin, ARENA, University of Oslo & University of Gothenburg






Name Title Phone E-mail
Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen Professor +4535323426 E-mail
Silje Synnøve Lyder Hermansen Assistant Professor - Tenure Track +4535323732 E-mail

Funded by:

Logo - Independent Research Fund Denmark

Applying the rules of the European Health Union (EU-Apply) is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark

Project: Applying the rules of the European Health Union (EU-Apply)
Start: September 2023
End: September 2027


Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen
Principal Investigator
Department of Political Science
Phone: +45 35 32 34 26