Implementing European Case Law at the Bureaucratic Frontline: How Domestic Signalling Influences the Outcomes of EU Law

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This article analyses the implementation of European case law at the bureaucratic frontline of European member states. Theoretically, insights from street‐level implementation studies are combined with judicial impact research. Empirically, we compare how EU rules on free movement and cross‐border welfare are applied in practice in Denmark, Austria and France. We find that when applying EU rules in practice, street‐level bureaucrats are confronted with a world of legal complexity, consisting of ambiguous rules, underspecified concepts and a recent judicial turn by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In order to manage complexity, street‐level bureaucrats turn to their more immediate superiors for guidance. As a consequence, domestic signals shape the practical application of EU law. Despite bureaucratic discretion and many country differences, domestic signals create uniform, restrictive outcomes of EU law in all three cases. Thus we show that there is considerable room for politics in EU implementation processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)814-828
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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