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Journal Article

Resolving Deadlock: Why International Organisations Introduce Soft Law


Schäfer,  Armin
Institutioneller Wandel im gegenwärtigen Kapitalismus, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Schäfer, A. (2006). Resolving Deadlock: Why International Organisations Introduce Soft Law. European Law Journal, 12(2), 194-208. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0386.2006.00315.x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-4B8E-A
Since the mid-1990s the European Union has introduced a number of policy coordination processes that abstain from delegating or pooling sovereignty. Instead the EU relies on soft law that does not legally bind governments in the same way as the Community Method used to. The literature assumes that soft law is chosen to achieve common objectives given considerable diversity among the Member States. In contrast, this paper suggests that non-binding coordination is first and foremost a means to foster compromises in the absence of substantial agreements. Three case studies demonstrate that international organisations have repeatedly relied on soft law to overcome disagreements among their members. The IMF, the OECD, and the EU introduced soft coordination at times of institutional crisis to prevent a breakdown of negotiations.