Where Do They Meet?

Linda Senden (Tilburg University)

Over the past decade, the EU has been developing a new regulatory policy, which increasingly puts emphasis on the use of alternative instruments or on instruments that are complementary to traditional command-and-control legislation. This aim of diversification of the Union's regulatory instruments is fundamentally inspired by the concern to enhance the effectiveness, legitimacy and transparency of EU action. These alternative instruments - including inter alia recommendations and voluntary agreements - are often labelled with the general terms of 'soft law', 'self-regulation' and/or 'co-regulation'. This article is aimed at providing a general insight into the meaning which these concepts currently have within the context of the EU; it discusses the legal framework for the use thereof and touches upon some possible effects in terms of legitimacy. Furthermore, it addresses the interconnectedness of the phenomenon of soft law on the one hand and of self-regulation and co-regulation on the other. In this respect, particular attention is given to the course taken within the framework of the White Paper on European Governance 2001, the 2002 Commission Action plan 'Simplifying and improving the regulatory environment, the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making of 2003 and the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe adopted by the Member States in 2004.

Cite as: Linda Senden, Soft Law, Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation in European Law: Where Do They Meet?, vol 9.1 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW (January 2005), <>.

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1. Introduction
2. The two pillars of the Union's legislative policy
2.1 The development of a 'new legislative culture'
2.2 The first pillar: 'Do less in order to do better'
2.3 The second pillar: Diversification of modes of governance
2.4 The underlying aim of enhancing the Union's legitimacy
3. The legal framework for European self-regulation and co-regulation
3.1 Conceptualising European self-regulation and co-regulation
3.2 Some important manifestations of European self-regulation and co-regulation
3.3 The development of a general legal framework: The Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making
3.4 Effects in terms of legitimacy
4. Interconnectedness with Community soft law
4.1 The concept, classification and functions of Community soft law
4.2 The case of recommendations and their link with self-regulation
5. Concluding remarks

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