Strengthening EU Law: through Incremental legal changes to major policy shifts

The EU is often perceived as either doing too much, or not doing enough. Questions about (limits to) EU powers and the principle of conferral are central to these debates. Increasingly, the EU legislator navigates these debates through legislative proposals that combine a number of Treaty provisions and through what the European Commission suggest can be seen as ‘complementary’ legislating, i.e. a means to strengthen existing EU legislation by adopting rules about the enforcement of EU law. This paper will focus on the recently adopted Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law to map and critically examine how major shifts in EU policy may occur through incremental legal changes. In the face of growing contestation of EU law the paper asks whether strengthening EU law, and in particular its enforcement, through such means may fall short of the intended goal and rather increase backlashes to European project.