Understanding the Global Regulatory Process
Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Francesca Bignami and David Zaring
Chapter 2: Regulation in the European Union
The European Union (EU) is the most influential regulator in the world. The EU regulates everything from food safety, to the roaming tariffs for mobile phones, to the content of prospectuses for traded securities, to the carbon emissions from passenger planes, to capital requirements for banks, to the recyclability of consumer electronics, to the cookies on websites, to the tuition charged to European students who study in other EU countries, to working hours, to rules on workplace discrimination, to the pension eligibility of migrant workers, to mergers of companies and divorces of married couples. The list goes on and on. Estimates of the length of the accumulated body of legislation adopted by the EU (the so-called acquis communautaire) range from 80,000 to 170,000 pages. In short, EU regulations influence most aspects of economic activity in Europe, and many related areas of social life. And the impact of EU regulation does not end at the EU’s borders. EU rules determine global regulatory standards across a wide range of areas—a phenomenon Anu Bradford has labeled “The Brussels Effect.” As Bradford (2012: 3) eloquently puts it, The European Union sets the global rules across a range of areas, such as food, chemicals, competition, and the protection of privacy. EU regulations have a tangible impact on the everyday lives of citizens around the world.
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