Time to comply : national responses to six EU labour market directives revisited

Thomson, Robert (2007) Time to comply : national responses to six EU labour market directives revisited. West European Politics, 30 (5). pp. 987-1008. ISSN 0140-2382

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Abstract

This paper examines variation in the timing of compliance with European directives. It formulates and tests the hypothesis that member states' policy-based incentives to deviate from the content of directives influence delay in compliance. This hypothesis is tested along with other factors that are posited to influence compliance, including the amount of discretion directives give member states, the level of misfit between national and European-level laws, and characteristics of member states. The hypotheses are examined in a quantitative research design using arguably the best available information on compliance: national responses to six labour market directives investigated by Falkner et al. (200517. Falkner, Gerda, Trieb, Oliver, Hartlapp, Miriam and Leiber, Simone. 2005. for Complying with Europe. The present study develops Falkner et al.'s analysis in two respects. First, it identifies new theoretically important variables and offers measures of these, notably member states' policy-based incentives to deviate and the amount of discretion granted by directives. Second, it tests these hypotheses using multivariate analysis, while Falkner et al. applied bivariate tests only. In contrast to Falkner et al.'s conclusions, the findings indicate that misfit between national and European laws significantly reduces the likelihood of timely compliance. While political opposition at the time of a directive's adoption is not linked directly to compliance, member states tend to oppose directives that do not fit existing national laws. Compliance is more timely for directives that grant more discretion.