The Conceptual, Constitutional and Theoretical Foundations of Shared Regulation and Enforcement for a stronger Europe


In this project, we want to understand how the law can contribute to the creation of a European society that enjoys and promotes peace, guarantees the protection of core values and the well-being of its citizens. It is an open project that seeks to bring together researchers, so everyone is welcome to join. 

On this page you find a description of the project's main question, its three main goals, its four thematic areasCoCoT research at a glance (including CoCoT conversation series, presentations and research projects), upcoming events, and finally the affiliated researchers and  contact details at the bottom of the page.

Main question

When can regulatory and enforcement approaches and arrangements be considered as ‘good’ or ‘smart’? In the light of both the realization of their policy goals (effectiveness) and the protection of core values, public goods and interests the Member States strive after in the framework of the EU (legitimacy)? We can visualise this as follows:

Main goals

The main question (outlined above) will be addressed through three main goals:

Strengthening conceptual, theoretical and constitutional reflection within RENFORCE

CoCoT plays an important function within RENFORCE. It identifies and maps common grounds in the research performed so far by RENFORCE members, connecting researchers and creating opportunities for exchange and discussion from a conceptual, constitutional and theoretical perspective. In so doing, CoCoT not only consolidates the existing research community and develops a more coherent approach to the RENFORCE research, but it also seeks to highlight and make more visible research outputs that already speak to the conceptual, constitutional and theoretical foundations of the research program. 

To this aim, in spring 2021 the CoCoT-project launched the “Mapping RENFORCE identity” exercise, where RENFORCE researchers produced posters that visualize in a schematic and easy-accessible way their research questions, methodology, and findings. 

Also, a CoCoT Conversation series has been initiated in fall 2021 to stimulate internal debate on the RENFORCE foundations, coupled with external academic and stakeholder reflection.

Discussing the theories and methods for investigating good legislation and enforcement 

CoCoT intends to contribute to the academic debate on regulation and enforcement in Europe. To this aim, the CoCoT project aligns with the ‘Law in Context’, the ‘Law in the real world’ and the ‘Living Constitution’ schools of thought, which tie in very well with one another. 

To answer our main question (When can regulatory and enforcement arrangements be considered as good or smart?) doctrinal methods of inquiry are not enough. This type of question requires a ‘law in context’ and ‘law in the real world’ perspective, which embrace an understanding of the law within its broader historical, cultural, socio-economic and political context. Moreover, the notion of the Living Constitution invites us to read the text of the basic Treaties (TEU, TFEU, CFR) in light of unwritten constitutional principles, to incorporate the changing economic, social, political and historical landscape into our interpretations. To a certain extent, the Living Constitution interpretative approach is also followed by the CJEU. This can be roughly summarized as a three-step approach; combining a textual interpretation (i) with a systematic and contextual interpretation (ii) and a functional and purposive one (iii).  As such, this approach will also allow for laying bare important connections between the institutional level/framework and the substantiation, interpretation and application of the material law.

Finally, a ‘law in the real world’ type of analysis cannot ignore the national level. Indeed, the nation-state retains vast regulatory powers and national legal systems are central in the implementation and enforcement of European policies. Moreover, national stakeholders and citizens are the recipients of European rights and duties, and their bottom-up perspective is crucial to assess the legitimacy and effectiveness of the policies we study.

Finding alternative solutions to societal problems 

Finally, CoCoT devotes great attention to societal problems and the research conducted will allow for drawing alternative solutions for existing and future societal problems. By assessing existing regulatory and enforcement practices, It will bring valuable insights for policymakers, legislators, legal practitioners and other scholars. Outcomes of the project can feed ongoing debates on better regulation and enforcement at the EU and the national level through different fora and networks RENFORCE researchers have already been engaged with in the past years. 

Thematic areas and research outputs

Concretely, the project focuses on four thematic areas:

CoCoT Research at a glance

Posters by RENFORCE members 

CoCoT Conversation Series

In November 2021 we have launched the “CoCoT Conversation series”, a series of events where RENFORCE researchers and external speakers will draw on their work to discuss the following questions:

  • What are the relevant standards, principles and procedures in different areas of law for the shaping of ‘good’ regulation and enforcement in Europe and beyond?
  • How such relevance is determined?
  • How are and can these standards, principles and procedures be conceptualised and operationalised? 
  • How can they be used as yardsticks for the assessment of e.g. compliance, legitimacy and/or effectiveness and by what methodological/theoretical approaches this is or could be done?

Presentations at national and international conferences, seminars, etc.

Research projects

Upcoming Events

Stay tuned for upcoming events - no new events scheduled yet


For more information on the CoCoT building block, you can contact Linda Senden, Elisabetta Manunza and Sebastian Meyer