The paradox of compliance: infringements and delays in transposing European Union directives

Robert Thomson, R Torenvlied, Javier Arregui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)


What impact does the negotiation stage prior to the adoption of international agreements have on the subsequent implementation stage? We address this question by examining the linkages between decision making on European Union directives and any subsequent infringements and delays in national transposition. We formulate a preference-based explanation of failures to comply, which focuses on states' incentives to deviate and the amount of discretion granted to states. This is compared with state-based explanations that focus on country-specific characteristics. Infringements are more likely when states disagree with the content of directives and the directives provide them with little discretion. Granting discretion to member states, however, tends to lead to longer delays in transposition. We find no evidence of country-specific effects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-709
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Early online date18 Sep 2007
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • negotiation
  • European Union directives

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