The objective of my work is to analyze the reasons for the breakthrough of minimum harmonization as a legislative technique of approximation of laws in the EU. Minimum harmonization is the definition of a common minimum standard from which the Member States can deviate to incorporate stricter measures.
The techniques for the approximation of laws changed significantly during the development of the Community. Whilst in the period after the signing of the Rome treaties the approach of the Commission and the Council of Ministers was to pass very detailed directives, a more flexible method was needed as the Community grew geographically and its legislative activities spread to new areas of law, such as consumer protection or environmental law, from the 1970s onward.
By studying the proposals for directives and their discussions in the Council I analyze why clauses permitting stricter laws by the Member States were inserted. Thus I intend to shed light on the question to what extent the approximation of laws was influenced by important European events, like the 1966 crisis of the ‘empty chair’ or the Cassis de Dijon judgment of 1979, and which political goals the Commission pursued with the approximation of laws.