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The European turn towards new modes of governance - legal problems of a political concept
It was only in 2001 that Romano Prodi, then President of the European Commission, proclaimed a turn to governance as the new European praxis. This signal has been heard. We are witnessing the emergence and refinement of ever new modes of governance. The new paradigm has triggered enormous research activities. "GOVLIT", the bibliographic resource for research on EU governance, which was developed under the framework of URL: CONNEXCONNEX: (a Network of Excellence financially supported by the European Commission) lists by now (May 2007) no less than 3345 pertinent titles.

"Governance" is not a legal concept and the research on governance is undertaken primarily by political scientists. Is "Integration Through Law", the legendary leitmotiv of the formative era of the integration project simply out of step with the needs of the presence? And where have all the lawyers gone who have once paved the way for the integration project. We do not ask this question for any nostalgic reasons. We are concerned because we believe that the symbiosis of the rule of law and democratic governance is an accomplishment which must not be given up lightly. We should at least try to preserve or restore the compatibility of the new (and sometimes not so new) modes of governance with the law’s proprium.

The structure of our paper mirrors our guiding concerns. We start with references to the legal debates of the 80s. We have chosen this starting point because the criticisms of interventionist conceptions of law developed in that period laid the foundations for the law to deal with what we now call governance practices. European governance practices are the topic of the main part. We are starting with a chronology of European innovations, and then go on to show how they can be grasped in legal terms. Our evaluation is by no means uniform. The potential of law to legitimate and to control governance practices depends on their specific features. We have no reason, however, to bring the law to trial. Governance is in need of legitimation and the quests for law-mediated legitimacy are sound.

No. 055/2007
Christian Joerges
Beate Braams
Michelle Everson

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