Policy Briefs


QUIS COSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES? is a Latin phrase from Satires by Roman poet Juvenal. Literally translated to “Who will guard the guards?,” the more famous variant “Who watches the watchmen?” seems an apt descriptor for the Volkswagen scandal, when it came to light that the automobile manufacturer had installed software in diesel vehicles to provide false information during emissions tests. The failure to uncover this trick revealed an endemic weakness in the regulatory system of the European Union (EU)—the fact that they are implemented by national authorities without direct control or sanction powers from the European Commission. It behooves the Commission, of course, to verify the integrity of these national control systems, but this is a politically sensitive issue. For this reason, those entrusted to enforce controls often opt for a softened or postponed approach.

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