European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 547–567 | Cite as

Policy deviations, uncertainty, and the European Court of Justice

  • Carsten Hefeker
  • Michael NeugartEmail author


The implementation of European Union directives into national law is at the discretion of member states. We analyze incentives for member states to deviate from these directives when the European Commission may sue a defecting member state and rulings at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) are uncertain. We find that higher uncertainty about the preferences of the ECJ increases policy deviation, irrespective of whether a case is taken to court or not. If decisions of member states to deviate are interdependent, the incidence of filed cases decreases while for those policies reaching the ECJ deviations increase.


European Union law Directives Compliance European Court of Justice Court behavior Uncertainty Legal process European Commission 

JEL Classification

D72 D78 K41 



We would like to thank Stefania Baroncelli, Miriam Hartlapp, Achim Kemmerling, and Christian Martin for their suggestions, and Marco Ditz for his valuable research assistance. We also profited from the comments given by the participants of the 6th Annual Conference on the Political Economy of International Organizations and the 2014 European Public Choice Society meeting, in particular by our discussants Thomas Hale, Nikitas Konstantinidis and Peter Claeys, and from the comments of research seminar participants at the University of Mannheim and the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel. We are also grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FoKoS and Department of EconomicsUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Law and EconomicsTechnical University of DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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