An Internationally Intelligible Principle: Comparing the Nondelegation Doctrine in the United States and European Union

Open access


This article analyzes the degree of convergence between the United States and the European Union regarding the structural role of administrative agencies. As will be argued, the United States and European Union have arrived at the same broad conclusion about a “nondelegation doctrine”: delegations to administrative agencies should be permitted so long as some limiting principle governs the exercise of that power and allows for sufficient judicial review. However, the Supreme Court has taken a more permissive approach than the Court of Justice in defining the limiting principle. The United States has loosened the reins for the sake of modern administration while the European Union has maintained a firmer grip to keep better control over the Europeanization project. Stated another way, the nondelegation doctrine is simply a reflection of the systems’ relative levels of integration. Thus, the nondelegation doctrine will be stretched in Europe as functional regulatory demands arise from wider and deeper integration. At the same time, the focus will be redirected from substantive limits to procedural controls; accordingly, this Note advocates for a European Administrative Procedure Act.

• Ankersmit Laurens, 2014, ‘The Legal Limits to ‘Agencification’ in the EU? Case C-270/12 UK v Parliament and Council’, European Law Blog, 27 January 2014,

• Bergin Amee, 2001, ‘Does Application of the APA's “Committed to Agency Discretion” Exception Violate the Nondelegation Doctrine?’, Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, XXVIII(2&3): 363-98.

• Bermann George, 2004, ‘Marbury v. Madison and European Union “Constitutional” Review’, George Washington International Law Review, XXXVI(3): 557-66.

• Bressman Lisa Schultz, 2003, ‘Beyond Accountability: Arbitrariness and Legitimacy in the Administrative State’, New York University Law Review, LXXVIII(2): 461-556.

• Chamon Merijn, 2010, ‘EU Agencies: Does the Meroni Doctrine Make Sense?’, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, XVII(3): 281-305.

• Clark Gabriel, 2000, ‘The Weak Nondelegation Doctrine and American Trucking Associations v. EPA’, Brigham Young University Law Review, 2000(2): 627-61.

• Datla Kirti & Revesz Richard, 2013, ‘Deconstructing Independent Agencies (and Executive Agencies)’ Cornell Law Review, XCVIII(4): 769-844.

• Dinan Desmond, 2010, Ever Closer Union?: An Introduction to the European Community, 4th edition, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

• Fabbrini Sergio, 2007, Compound Democracies: Why the United States and Europe Are Becoming Similar, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

• Geradin Damien, 2004, ‘The Development of European Regulatory Agencies: What the EU Should Learn From American Experience’, Columbia Journal of European Law, XI(1): 1-52.

• Griller Stefan & Orator Andreas, 2007, ‘NEWGOV, Meroni Revisited—Empowering European Agencies Between Efficiency and Legitimacy’, available at

• Halberstam Daniel, 2010, ‘Pluralism in Marbury and Van Gend’ in Maduro Miguel Poiares & Azoulai Loïc (eds), The Past and Future of EU Law: The Classics of EU Law Revisited on the 50th Anniversary of the Rome Treaty, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 26-36.

• Hosli Madeleine et al., 2013, ‘Introduction: Decision-Making in the European Union Before and After the Lisbon Treaty’, West European Politics, XXXVI(6): 1121-27.

• Kelemen R. Daniel & Majone Giandomenica, 2012, ‘Managing Europeanization: the European Agencies’ in Peterson John & Shackleton (eds), The Institutions of the European Union, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 219-40.

• Landau Joseph, 2012, ‘Chevron Meets Youngstown: National Security and the Administrative State’, Boston University Law Review, XCII(6): 1917-78.

• Laslett Peter (ed), 1988, Locke: Two Treatises of Government, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

• Lawson Gary, 2002, ‘Delegation and Original Meaning’, Virginia Law Review, LXXXVIII(2): 327-404.

• Lindseth Peter, 1999, ‘Democratic Legitimacy and the Administrative Character of Supranationalism: The Example of the European Community’, Columbia Law Review, XCIX(3): 628-738.

• Locke John, 1690, Two Treatises of Government (Peter Laslett ed, 1988), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

• Majone Giadomenico, 1994, ‘The Rise of the Regulatory State in Europe’, West European Politics, XVII(3): 77-101.

• Manning John, 1997, ‘Textualism as a Nondelegation Doctrine’, Columbia Law Review, XCVII(3): 673-739.

• McCarthy Thomas R. & Roberts Richard W. Jr., 2001, ‘American Trucking Associations v. Environmental Protection Agency: In Search and in Support of A Strong Nondelegation Doctrine’, Whittier Law Review, XXIII(1): 137-82.

• Meazell Emily, 2012, ‘Presidential Control, Expertise, and the Deference Dilemma’, Duke Law Journal, LXI(8): 1763-810.

• Menon Anand & Schain Martin (eds), 2006, Comparative Federalism: The European Union and the United States in Comparative Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

• Merrill Thomas, 2004, ‘Rethinking Article I, Section 1: From Nondelegation to Exclusive Delegation’, Columbia Law Review, CIV(8): 2097-181.

• Onuf Peter, 1983, The Origins of the Federal Republic, Jurisdictional Controversies in the United States, 1775-1787, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

• Pelkmans Jacques & Simoncini Marta, 2014, ‘Mellowing Meroni: How ESMA Can Help Build the Single Market’, CEPS Commentary, 18 February 2014, available at

• Phelan William, 2012, ‘What Is Sui Generis About the European Union? Costly International Cooperation in a Self-Contained Regime’, International Studies Review, XIV(3): 367-85.

• Posner Eric & Vermeule Adrian, 2002, ‘Interring the Nondelegation Doctrine’, University of Chicago Law Review, LXIX(4): 1721-62.

• Repasi René, 2014, ‘The Greens—European Free Alliance, Assessment of the Judgment of the European Court of Justice in Case C-270/12, United Kingdom v Council and European Parliament: Impact of this judgment on the proposal of the SRM regulation’, 23 January 2014, available at

• Sarvis Robert, 2006, ‘Legislative Delegation and Two Conceptions of the Legislative Power’, Pierce Law Review, IV(2): 317-58.

• Saurer Johannes, 2009, ‘The Accountability of Supranational Administration: The Case of European Union Agencies’, American University International Law Review, XXIV(3): 429-88.

• Schoenbrod David, 1985, ‘The Delegation Doctrine: Could the Court Give It Substance?’, Michigan Law Review, LXXXIII(5): 1223-90.

• Seidenfeld Mark & Rossi Jim, 2000, ‘The False Promise of the New Nondelegation Doctrine’, Notre Dame Law Review, LXXVI(1): 1-20.

• Sunstein Cass, 2000, ‘Nondelegation Canons’, University of Chicago Law Review, LXVII(2): 315-44.

• Weaver William, 2014, ‘Multiple-Agency Delegations & One-Agency Chevron’, Vanderbilt Law Review, LXVII(1): 275-306.

• Wertkin Jeffrey, 2002, ‘Reintroducing Compromise to the Nondelegation Doctrine’, Georgetown Law Journal, XC(4): 1055-86.

• Zaring David, 2013, ‘Sovereignty Mismatch and the New Administrative Law’, Washington University Law Review, XCI(1): 59-112.

• Ziaja Andrew, 2008, ‘Hot Oil and Hot Air: The Development of the Nondelegation Doctrine Through the New Deal, A History, 1813-1944’, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, XXXV(4): 921-64.

Journal Information

CiteScore 2018: 0.04

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.105
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.03

Target Group researchers, academics, practitioners interested in the field of political, economic and legal issues in federal states, regional organizations, and international organizations at global level


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 291 244 17
PDF Downloads 111 101 4