The Duty to Give Reasons in the European Legal Area: a Mechanism for Transparent and Accountable Administrative Decision-Making? A Comparison of Belgian, Dutch, French and EU Administrative Law

Ingrid Opdebeek,

Stéphanie De Somer


The duty to give reasons is generally thought of as an indispensable procedural guarantee that is offered to citizens in all modern European administrative law systems. The comparative analysis carried out in this article, however, reveals that important differences continue to exist between the way in which various legal systems within Europe conceive of that duty. The article furthermore argues that the duty to give reasons has an important role to play in the furtherance of transparency and accountability as principles of good governance. However, it also has its limitations as an instrument for keeping the administration accountable. Up until today, the duty to give reasons primarily has a role to play in the relationship between the administration and those individuals that are subject to its specic (mostly individual) decisions. In that context, the question arises whether the status of the duty to give reasons is evolving towards that of an individual human right

Słowa kluczowe: duty to give reasons, Europe, comparative perspective, transparency, accountability

Adams M., De argumentatieve en motiveringspraktijk van hoogste gerechtshoven: rechtsvergelijkende beschouwingen, “Rechtskundig Weekblad” 2009, vol. 72, issue 36.

Autin J.-L., La motivation des actes administratifs unilatéraux, entre tradition nationale et évolution des droits européens “RFDA”, 2011, no. 137–138.

Ballegooij van G. A. C. M., Barkhuysen T., den Ouden W., Polak J. E. M, Bestuursrecht in het Awb-tijdperk, Kluwer 2008.

Bell J., Mechanisms for Cross-fertilization of Administrative Law in Europe, in: New Directions in European Public Law, (eds.) J. Beatson, T. Tridimas, Hart 1998.

Benfquih Y., Deckers K., Verhoeven D., De motiveringsplicht in het Europees bestuursrecht, “Tijdschrift voor Bestuurswetenschappen en Publiekrecht” 2012, no. 67(3).

Bovens M., Analysing and Assessing Accountability: A Conceptual Framework, “European Law Journal” 2007, no. 13, issue 4.

Bovens M., Two Concepts of Accountability: Accountability as a Virtue and as a Mechanism, “West European Politics” 2010, no. 33, issue 5.

Buijze A., The Principle of Transparency in EU law, BOXPress 2013.

Chambers D., Davies G., Monti G., European Union Law, Cambridge University Press 2014.

Chamon M., EU agencies: does the Meroni Doctrine make sense?, “Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law” 2010, vol. 17, issue 3.

Craig P., EU administrative law, Oxford University Press 2012.

Curtin D., Holding (Quasi)Autonomous EU Administrative Actors to Public Account, “European Law Journal” 2007, no. 13, issue 4.

Custos D., Independent administrative authorities in France: structural and procedural change at the intersection of Americanization, Europeanization and Gallicization, in: Rose-Ackerman S., Lindseth P. L., Comparative Administrative Law, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham 2010.

Damen J. A., Boxum J. L., de Graaf K. J. et al., Bestuursrecht (1) Deel I, Boom Juridische Uitgevers 2009.

De Somer S., Toepassingsgebied ratione personae van de Wet Motivering Bestuurshandelingen, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.) I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure 2013.

Denys S., Advisering in het bestuursrecht, Administratieve rechtsbibliotheek: algemene reeks, die Keure, Brugge 2013.

Donnelly C., Participation and expertise: judicial attitudes in comparative perspective, in: Comparative Administrative Law, (eds.) S. Rose-Ackerman, P. Lindseth, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham 2010.

Frier P.-L., J. Petit, Droit administratif, Montchrestien 2012.

Gabarda O., Vers la généralisation de la motivation obligatoire des actes administratifs? Enjeux et perspectives d’évolutions autour du principe de la motivation facultative, “Revue Francaise de Droit Administratif ” (“RFDA”) 2012.

Gaudemet Y., Droit Administratif, Lextenso éditions, LGDJ, Paris Cedex 2012.

Gros M., Droit administratif. L’angle jurisprudentiel, L’Harmattan, Paris 2012

Hofmann H. C. H., Rowe G. C., Türk A. H., Administrative Law and Policy of the European Union, Oxford University Press 2011.

Hofmann H. C. H., Türk A. H., Legal Challenges in EU Administrative Law. Toward an Integrated Administration, Edward Elgar, Chelhamten 2009.

Hofmann H. C. H.,. Mihaescu B. C, The Relation between the Charter’s Fundamental Rights and the Unwritten General Principles of EU Law: Good Administration as the Test Case, “European Constitutional Law Review” 2013, vol. 9, issue 1.

Jans J. H., de Lange R., Prechal S., Widdershoven R. J. G. M., Inleiding tot het Europees Bestuursrecht, Ars Aequi Libri 2002.

Kanska K., Towards Administrative Human Rights in the EU. Impact of the Charter of Fundamental Rights “European Law Journal” 2004, vol. 10, no. 3.

Keyaerts D., Behoorlijke wetgeving in de rechtspraak van het Hof van Justitie 2008–2009, 2 TVW 2010.

Kristjánsdóttir M. V., Good Administration as a Fundamental Right, “Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration” 2013, vol. 9, issue 1.

Lefranc P., Ceci n’est pas une boucle administrative, in: De hervorming van de Raad van State (eds.) M. Van Damme, die Keure 2014.

Lenaerts K., P. Van Nuffel, Europees recht, Intersentia 2011.

Lindseth P. L., Power and Legitimacy: Reconciling Europe and the Nation State, Oxford University Press 2010.

Mashaw J. L., Reasoned Administration: the European Union, the United States, and the Project of Democratic Governance, “Faculty Scholarship Series” 2007, Paper 1179.

Meijer A., Grimmelikhuijsen S., Brandsma G. J., Transparantie. Verbreedt en versterkt openbaarmaking de publieke verantwoording?, in: Handboek publieke verantwoording, (eds.) M. Bovens, T. Schillemans, Lemma 2009.

Michelet K., La Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne et la procédure administrative non contentieuse, “Actualite Juridique Droit Administratif ” 2002.

Mulgan R., Holding power to account: accountability in modern democracies, Palgrave Macmillan 2003.

Opdebeek I., Coolsaet A., Aard van de formele motiveringsplicht, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.) I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure 2013.

Opdebeek I., Coolsaet A., De wet motivering bestuurshandelingen: een korte, maar revolutionaire wet, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.)I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure, Brugge 2013.

Opdebeek I., Coolsaet A., Draagwijdte van de formele motiveringsplicht, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.) I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure 2013.

Opdebeek I., Coolsaet A., Toepassingsgebied ratione materiae van de wet motivering bestuurshandelingen, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.) I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure 2013.

Opdebeek I., Coolsaet A., Uitzonderingen op de formele motiveringsplicht, in: Formele motivering van bestuurshandelingen, (eds.) I. Opdebeek, A. Coolsaet, die Keure 2013.

Papadopoulos Y., Problems of Democratic Accountability in Network and Multilevel Governance, “European Law Journal” 2007, no. 13, issue 4.

Pennarts H. F. T., Beginselen van behoorlijk bestuur, Maklu, Apeldoorn-Antwerpen 2008.

Perju V. E., Reason and Authority in the European Court of Justice, “Virginia Journal of International Law” 2009, no. 49.

Rose-Ackerman S., Lindseth P. L., Comparative Administrative Law: Outlining aField of Study, “Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice” 2010, vol. 28, issue 2.

Rose-Ackerman S., The Regulatory State, in: The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law, (eds.) M. Rosenfeld, A. Sajó, Oxford University Press 2012.

Schlössels R. J. N., Zijlstra S. E., Bestuursrecht in de sociale rechtsstaat, Kluwer 2010.

Scholtes E., Transparantie, icoon van een dolende overheid / Transparancy, symbol of adrifting government, Lemma 2012.

Schwarze J., European administrative law, Sweet and Maxwell, London 2006.

Songolo N., La motivation des actes administratifs, la site de la «Village do la Justice. La communaute des metiers du Droit»;,10849.html (12.02.2015).

Vincent J.-Y., Quillévéré G., Fascicule 107–30: Motivation de l’acte administratif, in: JurisClasseur Administratif, LexisNexis, version of 28 June 2014, with updates until 1 July 2015.

Zijlstra S. E. Bestuurlijk Organisatierecht, Kluwer 2009.