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Activities : Working Group on The Rule of Law & Public Administration


Call for papers 2020

WG Programme Coordinators:

Polonca Kovač, Faculty of Administration, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Polonca.Kovac@fu.uni-lj.si

Anamarija Musa, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia, amusa@pravo.hr

Aims of the WG:

The "rule of law” is a traditional legal and administrative principle, aimed at limiting the power of the state, governmental institutions and officials in their relations with citizens and other subjects and at ensuring that authoritative decisions are legally based and generally sound. It frames the rule-making (regulatory design), individual administrative proceedings and implementation of authoritative decisions and legislation, as well as any other administrative actions (see Baldwin et al., 2013, Dunlop, Radaelli, 2016, etc.).

Known in various administrative and political-legal legacies, from Aristotle’s recitals and British Middle Ages theory (Dicey) to the 19th century German Rechtsstaat or French Etat de droit, the principle evolved over time within different cultural and political-administrative systems. Nowadays it represents a set of complementary (sub)principles and special guarantees, such as proprietor rights, access to information, right to be heard and participation in public matters, judicial reviews, etc. The rule of law is a "supra” principle of good administration and sound public governance (Craig, 1997; Bevir et al., 2011, OECD, 2017), and therefore inevitably related to other administrative and broader societal principles, such as liberal democracy, proportionality, legal certainty, transparency, participation, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of administrative action, and innovation.


The rule of law in administrative relations is also one of the salient elements of the ongoing transitional development in CEE countries where, in contrast to the traditional democracies, it especially relates to human and minority rights, separation of power, participative authoritative procedures, transparent and accountable governmental actions, and anticorruption etc. Moreover, it is perceived as a basic requirement for any country to act as part of the European Administrative Space (Koprić, Kovač, 2017; Galletta, 2015) with a significant Europeanisation effect (see Venice Commission). However, legal aspects are only one dimension of modern administration that must not exclude economic, managerial, political and other considerations. On the contrary, the so-called "legalistic culture” pursues only the formal elements of the rule of law which is often characteristic of the CEE region. This needs to be surpassed since an over-detailed law hinders the resolution of complex administrative issues (such as migrations, digitalisation, ecological changes). The rule of law as a fundamental legal prerogative is therefore inevitably related to other administrative and broader societal principles, such as liberal democracy, proportionality, legal certainty, transparency, participation, accountability, efficiency and red tape reduction, and innovation. These principles, as well as the rule of law itself, have been developing in CEE countries in recent decades in the newly established socio-economic and political contexts, and as institutions in flux are demanding special attention in terms of research, conceptualisation, and practical preservation and upgrading.


Therefore it is the aim of the WG Rule of Law in Public Administration and Governance to discuss the specific elements and sub-principles of the rule of law, their economic, political and societal setting and effects related to public administration and governance in CEE countries, at both the regulatory level, and the level of individual administrative decision-making. We wish to compare the understanding of the rule of law in individual countries and in the European Administrative Space to further detect and exchange best practices.


Main focus, expectations, and topics:

This Working group at the NISPAcee 2020 Conference welcomes papers exploring specific sub elements of the rule of law the CEE region based on national case studies or in the comparative dimension (of the CEE countries and other countries in Europe or beyond), with the central issues being related to the challenges to the rule of law in the CEEs, or emergence of the rule of law as a part of administrative reforms in EU candidate countries. Given the influences of the administrative doctrine, as well as theory, the impact of both European and global administrative law on CEE administrations and governance are most welcome. Within the broader NISPAcee 2020 Conference frameworks of Europeanisation, globalisation and digitalisation, the key topics include (but are not restricted to) the following issues:


Topic 1: Protection of citizens’ rights in procedural and material dimension in terms of specific principles and rights, such as the right to be heard, duty to give reasons, timeliness of administrative decisions, equality, alternative dispute resolution, and also with regard to the relationship between legal arrangements (de jure) and the outcomes of the administrative action (de facto) in relation to specific policies and rights challenged by globalisation and digitalisation (asylum, taxation, access to information, privacy, electronic communication, other)

Topic 2: Accountability of public administration in terms of various control instruments, ranging from judicial reviews of individual and general administrative acts, parliamentary and other independent ex post instruments (ombudsman and other independent watchdog institutions, public hearings), and ex ante control of administrative actions (legitimacy of rule-making process, and participatory law-making).
Papers with special emphasis on the Europeanisation processes related to the construction and implementation of the accountability arrangements are welcome (e.g. administrative judiciary reform, anticorruption arrangements, independence of institutions, parliamentary oversight, and the role of free media, etc.). 

Both theoretical and empirical papers focusing on national case studies or comparative work, are welcome. The papers can be grounded in various disciplines, from public administration, law (administrative law, constitutional law, information law, public law, other), public policy, political science, regulation, economics, as well as interdisciplinary. 

Regardless of the selected topic or type of research methods (qualitative or more empirical), the prospective authors are encouraged to submit applications and full papers based on the IMRaD structure.

High quality papers will be considered for publishing in the special NISPAcee conference publication and in selected scientific journals, such as the NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy and Central European Public Administration Review, and alike.


•Baldwin, R., Cave, M., Lodge, M. (2013). Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice (2nd edition). New York: Oxford University Press.

•Bevir, M. (ed.) (2011). The SAGE Handbook of Governance. Los Angeles: Sage.

•Craig, P. (1997). Formal and Substantive Conceptions of the Rule of Law. Public Law: 467–487.

•Dunlop, C.A., Radaelli, C.M. (2016). Handbook of RIA. Cheltenham, Northampton: Elgar.

•Galetta, D.-U. et al. (2015). The General Principles of EU Administrative Law. Brussels: EP.

•Kovač, P., Bileišis, M. (eds.) (2017). Public Administration Reforms in the Eastern EU MS: Post-Accession Convergences and Divergences. Vilnius, Ljubljana: Mykolas Romeris University, Faculty of Administration.

•OECD/SIGMA (2017). Principles of Public Administration. http://www.sigmaweb.org/publications/principles-public-administration-eu-accession.htm.

•Venice Commission (2016). Rule of Law Checklist, https://www.venice.coe.int/images/SITE%20IMAGES/Publications/Rule_of_Law_Check_List.pdf



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