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The Politics of Regulation

The Politics of Regulation

Institutions and Regulatory Reforms for the Age of Governance

The CRC Series on Competition, Regulation and Development

Edited by Jacint Jordana and David Levi-Faur

This book suggests that the scope and breadth of regulatory reforms since the mid-1980s and particularly during the 1990s, are so striking that they necessitate a reappraisal of current approaches to the study of the politics of regulation. The authors call for the adoption of different and fresh perspectives to examine this area.

Chapter 10: Modes of Regulation in the Governance of the European Union: Towards a Comprehensive Evaluation

Christoph Knill and Andrea Lenschow

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


Christoph Knill and Andrea Lenschow 1. INTRODUCTION1 Forms of governance are in transition on an international scale. Neither the juxtaposition of the market and state regulation nor that of public versus private actors in governing society match well with the multiple faces of modern governance. The classical regulatory state, which has emerged as an alternative to the welfare state – both however with the intent to complement or correct market mechanisms – is gradually changing its distinctive face of top-down authoritative control of market and society and is joining with other steering mechanisms.2 The process of regulating is being decentralized, allowing access to and spreading responsibilities across economic and societal actors; the regulations themselves are taking on various forms ranging from substantive rules to incentives and procedural requirements; chains of control are blurring and mechanisms of control softening with the emphasis shifting towards more responsiveness and self-responsibility. While this trend is a general one, the European Union (EU), which has been characterized as a regulatory state par excellence (Majone, 1994, 85–92), represents a particularly good example to investigate and evaluate it. As part of a larger governance debate in Europe, triggered by the declining competitiveness of the European economy globally and concerns with regard to the protection of citizens in an increasingly uncertain environment (characterized by rapid technological change as well as open borders, and the fading capacities of national states to cope with these challenges), the EU is experimenting with a variety of different regulatory approaches. Historically, the EU regulators...

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