Granting powers to EU decentralised agencies, three years following Short-selling


The question of the extent to which EU institutions can grant powers to EU decentralised agencies has been the subject of inter-institutional and academic debate for decades. Only in 2014 did the Court of Justice itself settle the issue, confirming the constitutionality of ongoing agencification and allowing for its future development. The present article identifies a number of lessons which the EU legislature should draw from the Court’s Short-selling ruling. In addition a number of issues which have not yet been resolved by the Court but which may pose themselves in the future are identified. These relate to the nature of the discretion afforded to EU agencies, the nature of the acts which they adopt (in light of Articles 290 and 291 TFEU) and the new trend of allowing for direct delegations of power between national authorities and their EU counterparts.

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  1. 1.

    Although an official definition is lacking, the EU decentralised agencies may be defined as permanent bodies under EU public law, established by the institutions through secondary legislation and endowed with their own legal personality. See Chamon [2], p. 10.

  2. 2.

    For instance, between 2006 and 2016 the subsidies from the EU budget to the EU agencies has more than tripled.

  3. 3.

    Chamon [2], pp. 45–46.

  4. 4.

    Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2014:18.

  5. 5.

    See Chamon [2], p. 135.

  6. 6.

    Case 9/56 Meroni, EU:C:1958:7.

  7. 7.

    Chamon [4], p. 383.

  8. 8.

    Chamon [2], p. 119.

  9. 9.

    Regulation 236/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps [2012] OJ L86/1.

  10. 10.

    See i.e. Chamon [4]; Kohtamäki [7]; Martucci [9]; Clément/Wilz [5].

  11. 11.

    Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2014:18, para. 42.

  12. 12.

    Ibid., paras 46–51.

  13. 13.

    Ibid., para. 53.

  14. 14.

    Ibid., paras 78–79.

  15. 15.

    Ibid., para. 83.

  16. 16.

    Opinion of AG Jääskinen in Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2013:562.

  17. 17.

    On the Court’s jurisprudence as a ‘drafting guide’ for the EU legislature, see Weatherill [15].

  18. 18.

    Chamon [2], p. 247.

  19. 19.

    Note that in Short-selling the ESMA’s intervention powers were exceptional in the sense that the ESMA will only be competent when the Member States’ authorities do not take sufficient action to address serious threats to the stability and integrity of financial markets. In this regard, the Court did not take issue with the fact that it is up to the ESMA itself to decide whether Member States’ authorities have taken sufficient action.

  20. 20.

    See Case C-427/12 Commission v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2014:170; Case C-88/14 Commission v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2015:499.

  21. 21.

    Craig finds force in the Court’s reasoning but omits to explain why. See Craig [6], pp. 194–195. Instead, as Bertrand notes, it is difficult to see how the ESMA would be adopting anything other than an implementing act (under Article 291 TFEU). See Bertrand [1], p. 28.

  22. 22.

    After all, nothing prevents the EU legislature from setting up an EU agency that is subject to greater democratic control than the European Commission is.

  23. 23.

    Opinion of AG Jääskinen in Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2013:562, para. 85.

  24. 24.

    Lenaerts [8], pp. 762–763.

  25. 25.

    See for instance Article 9d of Directive 1999/62 which allows the Commission to adapt, by way of delegated acts, Annex 0 of the Directive to the Union acquis and Article 3(2) of the same Directive which allows the Commission to amend (without referring to a delegated act) the list of national taxes in Article 3(1) when a Member States notifies the Commission of a change in its tax system. See Directive 1999/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 1999 on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures [1999] OJ L 187/42.

  26. 26.

    See Case C-66/04 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2005:743; Case C-359/92 Germany v Council, EU:C:1994:306.

  27. 27.

    Chamon [4], p. 388.

  28. 28.

    Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2014:18, para. 107.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., paras 102, 103, 105, 109, 114–115.

  30. 30.

    Following Short-selling the Court’s jurisprudence on Article 114 TFEU has of course further developed. See notably Case C-358/14 Poland v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2016:323.

  31. 31.

    See e.g. Case T-135/13 Hitachi Chemical Europe e.a. v ECHA, EU:T:2015:253, paras 52–53; Case T-115/15 Deza v ECHA, EU:T:2017:329, paras 163–164.

  32. 32.

    Case T-94/10 Rütgers v ECHA, EU:T:2013:107, para. 133.

  33. 33.

    Case 9/56 Meroni, EU:C:1958:7, p. 153.

  34. 34.

    Note however that the ESMA’s power to fine as laid down in Regulation 648/2012 is exactly elaborated in such a way, see Article 65 and Annexes I and II of the Regulation.

  35. 35.

    The substances included in Annex XIV are substances for which an authorisation is required in order to be used or to be put on the market for use.

  36. 36.

    See e.g. Case C-358/14 Poland v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2016:323, para. 79; Case T-100/15 Dextro Energy v Commission, EU:T:2016:150, para. 30.

  37. 37.

    See Case C-65/13 Parliament v Commission, EU:C:2014:2289, para. 43.

  38. 38.

    See Ohler [11], p. 251; Skowron [13], p. 353.

  39. 39.

    See above, fn. 8.

  40. 40.

    See COM (2010) 482 final.

  41. 41.

    See however ESMA’s power to fine credit rating agencies under Regulation 1060/2009 as amended by Regulation (EU) 513/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2011 [2011] OJ L 145/30. In its original proposal, the Commission had proposed to grant itself this power following a recommendation from the agency, but the European Parliament amended this. See Article 36a in COM (2010) 484 final.

  42. 42.

    Craig [6], pp. 195–198.

  43. 43.

    Michel [10], pp. 227–236.

  44. 44.

    Regulation (EU) 182/ 2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers [2011] OJ L 55/13.

  45. 45.

    The LIFE case could be read in this way as suggested by Schütze. See Case C-378/00 Commission v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2003:42; Schütze [12], p. 678.

  46. 46.

    See Van Cleynenbreugel [14], pp. 81–82. Also before Van Cleynenbreugel, other authors have argued that the delegations to EU agencies may (or should) be conceptualised as a Europeanization of executive powers upwards from the national level. For a discussion, see Chamon [2], pp. 195–196.

  47. 47.

    See Article 53(3) of the regulation proposed by COM (2015) 613 final.

  48. 48.

    Case C-146/13 Spain v Parliament & Council, EU:C:2015:298, para. 87.

  49. 49.

    On this objectification, see Chamon [3], p. 1508.

  50. 50.

    Case 25/70 Köster, EU:C:1970:115.


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Correspondence to Merijn Chamon.

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Merijn Chamon, Post-doctoral assistant at the Ghent European Law Institute, Ghent University (Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence); Visiting Professor at the University of Antwerp.

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Chamon, M. Granting powers to EU decentralised agencies, three years following Short-selling . ERA Forum 18, 597–609 (2018).

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  • EU decentralised agencies
  • Institutional balance
  • Meroni doctrine
  • Delegation