Compliance and Conflict Management in the European Union: Nordic Exceptionalism



Why and to what extent do states differ in their implementation of international norms? Furthermore, why and to what extent do states differ in their mode of resolving conflicts regarding non-implementation of international norms? In this article the empirical focus is on implementation of Community legislation by the member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The analysis shows that over time there has been an overall reduction in the deficit in transposition, but the number of conflicts regarding non-implementation has increased in the same period. While states converge on transposition, they diverge regarding their mode of handling conflicts related to non-implementation. In general, the larger member states more frequently use court rulings to settle such conflicts. By contrast, the smaller states, and in particular the Nordic states, pursue a more consensus-seeking approach, with limited use of courts. These observations indicate that domestic traditions and styles of decision making are more important for explaining variation than the enforcement capacity of the European institutions, and the extent of participation and power in decision making at the European level.