European law scholars acknowledge that cooperation amongst public administrations in Europe has 'become the backbone of the EU's unique system of government and governance'. All in all, it has been pointed out that the principle of (administrative) cooperation is crucial for the correct application of European Union (EU) law. However, cooperation is also the very principle around that revolve several initiatives, launched to provide an alternative to the courts in protecting individuals against alleged misapplications of European law by national authorities. Hence, cooperation networks of national authorities (and European institutions) have been set up to provide a response to the needs of the European citizen who has to deal with a new 'European administration' and also to make administrative practices better and more consistent throughout Europe.
This article is divided into two main sections. The first section deals with the principle of administrative cooperation in the application of EU law and with the legal problems (especially in terms of judicial review) that stem from 'cross-border' composite decision-making procedures. The second section focuses on the cooperation networks that during the last decade have been developed to resolve problems arising when EU rights are not respected by national public authorities: namely the SOLVIT network, the Public Procurement Network and the Network of Ombudsmen. Finally, a brief account is given of the Single Market Assistance Services initiative.European Public Law