Throughout the years a large number of policy fields and decision-making structures have been ‘Europeanized’ as a spin-off from market integration, thereby gradually complementing the economic core of the European constitution with more ‘political’ elements. In some areas, Member States have claimed a stronger control of ongoing coordination. Accountability and legitimacy are themes central to a broad field of research, in particular in relation to the newer competences of the EU institutions. The legitimacy of (enforcement) policies and actions of the Union's institutions in the realm of the traditional competences of the EU are often taken for granted. However, the legitimacy of such policies and the institutional and procedural framework in which they are developed need to be examined in their actual context. This is a realm where crucial developments under the Lisbon Treaty and in reaction to the economic crisis require new studies of the legitimacy of specific policies and a review of hierarchies of norms and policies.
Fundamental questions also arise in economic regulation on how the various institutional models of enforcement operate within this changing legal and political order. How are legitimacy and accountability affected, implemented and enforced in the different institutional models of market regulation? For example, how have the principles of legitimacy and accountability been applied in the various networks of regulators (such as for example the European Competition Network)? How can the continuous accountability of such networks be ensured in view to their increasing and possibly also justifiable independence and broad discretionary powers? Do the accountability structures in market regulations provide an adequate and legitimate system?
In the context of the economic crisis, related questions are whether and how (social and economic) interests are taken into account in the definition and pursuit of regulatory and policy objectives. How are the economic and non-economic values and interests of today’s citizens and society implemented in substantive regulatory rules as well as reflected in the way regulatory rules are enforced and regulatory institutions are administratively structured organized? How does this play in the context of risk regulation within the EU? Do the mechanisms and decision-making structures favour certain forms of participation over others and do they have consequences for the way in which different interests are represented? What is the role of the individual, whether economically active or not, in the European legal order? How do principles such as equality and solidarity relate to individual rights?