The activism of EU supranational institutions: this will be the topic of a special issue in the Journal of Contemporary European Research (JCER). David Howarth and I just won the bid for JCER’s 2017 special issue, and we will get to work swiftly, first publishing a call for abstracts in order to complete our collection of contributions, and then getting into the editing process itself.
As mentioned above, our issue will deal with the activism of EU supranational institutions. Much of the Political Science literature on European integration focuses upon the role of supranational institutions. All the main theories assign them a specific role — large or smaller but nonetheless significant. The most common theories (notably, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism, constructivism and rational choice institutionalism) at best capture only a partial picture of the role of supranational institutions. Historical studies of European integration have also placed emphasis on the role of supranational institutions — notably the European Commission — but frequently neglect or downplay the role of other institutions, including the European Parliament prior to the 1990s. In legal studies, the ‘activism’ of the European Court of Justice has been decried by its critics at least since the ground breaking work of the late Hjalte Rasmussen. More recently, however, the idea of ‘activism’ itself has been put under a more rigorous theoretical lens, examining the pattern of structural incentives and constraints under which the Court operates. This special issue will bring together a range of scholars from the disciplines of Political Science, History and Law. The issue will cover several EU institutions (such as the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank) and other bodies, such as the European Investment Bank and EU agencies, and will shed light on how they extended their formally prescribed role through activist behaviour.