Research project

One for all and all for one? The role of collective actors in enforcing European law

The research project One for all and all for one? The role of collective actors in enforcing European law examines various factors and bodies which could help optimise the enforcement of EU rights and obligations. It builds on pre-existing findings on the subject (see Dawson/Muir 2011) to develop and host a two-day conference, bringing together officials, civil society actors, judges and academics in Berlin. The event fosters the exchange of ideas used by the various stakeholders involved. It also produces research output in the form of an edited publication.

This project is a collaboration between the Hertie School and Maastricht Law Faculty and is sponsored by the Jean Monnet Programme of the European Union.


How could EU rights and obligations be more effectively enforced? The EU has so far relied on a dual system of vigilance whereby either individuals or institutions such as the European Commission may bring cases in order to give effect to EU law. What if this system defaults though, for example because individuals are too vulnerable or institutions too politicised to act?

A third and new mode of vigilance would be to empower collective actors (e.g. NGOs, or ‘class actions’) to take actions on behalf of a group of individuals. Collective enforcement is one of the priorities of the Commission, as illustrated by its 2011 consultation on collective redress in EU economic law. This initiative has, however, left three crucial questions open.

This project addresses these questions regarding (1) the desirability of a horizontal approach to the collective enforcement of both economic and non-economic law, (2) the respective roles of EU and national authorities (political institutions/judiciary) in developing collective remedies and (3) the procedural design necessary to boost the opportunities but also address the pitfalls of collective mechanisms.


Project lead

  • Mark Dawson, Professor of European Law and Governance