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On 8 June 2023, the European Commission published a long-awaited proposal for the establishment of an interinstitutional ethics body, meant to restore the public’s faith in the European Union’s administration following the Qatargate corruption scandal. Alas, the Commission’s proposal outlines a body that lacks investigative and sanctioning powers, has minimal administrative capacity and for the most part relies on the institution’s own policing. Put simply, it falls short of the promises made by the Commission’s President in her 2019 political guidelines, and much shorter of what was expected as a remedy to the European Union’s recent ethics-related scandals. In this short piece, we reflect on the Commission’s proposal for an inter-institutional ethics body in light of the overall ethics framework in the Union and provide a brief analysis of the Commission’s missed opportunity and of what could have been.
The global climate crisis poses many risks; for instance, relating to the environment, to the economy and to public health. The mitigation and management of such risks create a complex and multifaceted regulatory conundrum that requires quick, flexible, efficient and adaptive policy solutions that transcend the state level. A quick look in the body of regulatory instruments employed in the field of climate change policy will reveal that soft law is used very frequently by the European Commission to aid with the application, transposition and interpretation of European Union (EU) environmental legislation relating to climate change. While soft law has become ever more prominent in the EU legal order and has been studied extensively at the ex-post phase (ie concerning its effects or effectiveness), little academic attention has been paid to the process of soft law-making. In simple terms, we know very little about how soft law instruments are made. This article peeks behind the scenes of soft law and examines the transparency and participation credentials of the articulation process of Commission Guidance Documents in the field of climate change regulation adopted under key legal acts in the field.