Persuasive rather than ‘binding’ EU soft law? An argumentative perspective on the European Commission’s soft law instruments in times of crisis

Corina Andone*, Florin Coman-Kund

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    164 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper starts from the premise that argumentation in EU (Commission) soft law instruments is essential for their effectiveness, mainly due to its function to persuade addressees as a means to enhance compliance. Notwithstanding their importance in the EU legal-political landscape, the problem is how to ensure that these instruments devoid of formal legally binding force can function as effective governance tools by convincing addressees to comply, particularly during crisis periods such as the Covid-19 crisis, when fast and effective action is urgently needed. By pointing at a number of significant legal problems and concerns deriving from the Commission’s ‘hardened’ soft law instruments, we suggest a normative approach focusing on the potential of EU soft law instruments to act as highly persuasive tools. By making the instruments’ argumentation a core concern, we examine its role as a means to improve the intrinsic quality of EU (Commission) soft law and to foster effective compliance. To this end, we propose a theoretical-analytical framework combining insights from law and argumentation theory, that puts forward an argumentative toolbox for the analysis and assessment of EU (Commission) soft law instruments. This toolbox comprises four argumentative parameters that need to be taken into account in the drafting and evaluation of EU (Commission) soft law instruments: (1) the content of the argumentation, (2) the design of the arguments pointing at persuasive suggestions for cooperation, (3) the factors influencing argumentative effectiveness, and (4) the soundness of argumentation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-47
    Number of pages26
    JournalTheory and Practice of Legislation
    Issue number1
    Early online date2 Feb 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research programs

    • SAI 2010-01 RRL


    Dive into the research topics of 'Persuasive rather than ‘binding’ EU soft law? An argumentative perspective on the European Commission’s soft law instruments in times of crisis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this