Chapter 4: The governance of telecommunications in the European Union
Kjell A. Eliassen, Catherine B. Monsen and Nick Sitter Over the last two decades Western Europe has seen a shift from regulation of telecommunications by way of nationalized utilities and ministerial control to regulation of privatized operators through competition policy and independent regulators. This has taken place in the context of the revival of European integration with the Single European Market (SEM) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) projects. Like these two projects it has been based on a relatively free market-oriented approach to economic policy, or governance, that combines liberalization with Europeanization. The liberalization process has opened telecoms markets to competition, to a greater extent than in other utilities sectors such as energy, but it has also raised a series of questions about regulation of competitive markets. These have much in common with other sectors subject to special regulation, notably banking and ﬁnancial services, where regulation is at one and the same time necessary to guarantee competition and a potential tool for protection. In the context of this volume the central question is whether this development of ‘EMU governance’ has generated ‘a fully-ﬂedged open market economy’ or whether the liberalization process has provided continuing shelter for telecoms operators against the pressures of globalization. The shift from a telecoms sector dominated by single state-owned selfregulating national players (traditional European telecoms government) to a competitive multi-player scene (governance in the shadow of EMU – or ‘EMU governance’) has raised three sets of questions. These concern (a) the extent of liberalization, or...
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