Confronting the Competence Conundrum - Containing European Integration through an Expansion of its Legislative Powers?

Event date
24 February 2016
Event time
13:00 - 14:00
Oxford week
Brasenose College
Professor Sacha Garben

The meeting will be held in Lecture Room XI, Brasenose College.


This talk presents an argument for a fundamental overhaul of the current competence constellation in the EU, which is necessary to address the problem that the current arrangement does not respect the important values that it is supposed to uphold, namely those of democracy, subsidiarity and national diversity. While pretending otherwise, it effectively contains neither negative nor positive EU integration in areas of Member State competence. Furthermore, it enables European integration of these areas through even less accountable intergovernmental mechanisms. It will be argued that the root cause of this problem is that demarcation of competences as a method to contain the EU does not work, because such an approach of ‘categorical federalism’ is bound to fail, especially in the EU context since it is incompatible with the functionality that is written in the legal order’s DNA. It is therefore proposed to dispose of demarcation as a way to contain EU action and instead to openly recognise the inevitable broadness of the EU’s powers while containing the exercise of these powers through a democratisation of the legislative process. This talk is based on a recent publication, entitled “Confronting the Competence Conundrum: Democratising the European Union through an Expansion of its Legislative Powers”, in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2015).

Prof. Dr. Sacha Garben is Professor of European Law at the College of Europe, Bruges. She is also an official at the European Commission, where she worked as a legal officer from 2013 to 2015, and from which she took a leave of absence to take up her current position at the College of Europe. Before joining the European Commission, Professor Garben was an academic fellow at the LSE and worked at the European Court of Justice. She obtained her PhD at the European University Institute in Florence.

Found within

EU Law