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Meta-rules and constitutional law: 'co-regulating' legislative processes in Europe? (METARULES)
Start date: Mar 1, 2008, End date: Feb 28, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Given the fundamental importance of legislation to society, legal scholarship has generated remarkably few insights into the norms that effectively govern legislative processes. Between the extra-legal constraints traditionally studied by political science and the formal constitutional framework that is the territory of constitutional law scholarship, a grey area of seemingly bureaucratic rules on lawmaking can be identified. This project refers to these rules as ‘meta-rules’ and aims to analyse the way they interact with constitutional law. The recent proliferation of ‘Better Regulation’ policies in Europe has led to a convergence of meta-rules applied in different legislative arenas and to a growing salience of these norms. Many meta-rules overlap with constitutional norms in terms of subject matter, for instance the issue of who gets access to the legislative process. However, these rules are inspired by the paradigm of the regulatory state rather than by the traditional rationale of democratic lawmaking. An example of a meta-rule is ‘a legislative proposal can only be put forward if it is accompanied by an impact assessment’. Such a requirement follows a different logic than the assumption that ‘the sovereign parliament can initiate laws as it sees fit’ which is often part of traditional constitutional frameworks. Are meta-rules as they emerge from increased transnational cooperation in the framework of EU ‘Better Regulation’ capable of overriding the formal constitutional rules and principles in certain cases? Or do they instead facilitate their implementation in the day-to-day practice of lawmaking? It is proposed to combine macro-level research on meta-rules by expanding existing databases on regulatory policies in Europe with more detailed case-study based analysis. In doing so traditional methods such as elite interviewing and textual interpretation will be combined with methods that are new to legal research, such as quantitative textual analysis."
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