The Dynamics of Change in EU Governance

The Dynamics of Change in EU Governance

Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series

Edited by Udo Diedrichs, Wulf Reiners and Wolfgang Wessels

This book brings together the research of different academic disciplines to explore the recent transformation of governance in the European Union. The emergence, execution and evolution of new modes of EU governance across several policy fields – encompassing all three former pillars of the European Union – are mapped, analysed and evaluated. In particular, the contributors focus on the ways in which these innovative mechanisms and practices relate to ‘old’ methods of governance and what their implications are for both the effectiveness and efficiency of policy-making. Particular attention is devoted to the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the shape of EU governance. Conclusions are drawn in the form of an integrated framework that explores the dynamics and differentiation of EU governance.

Chapter 2: Soft Law as a New Mode of Governance

Anne Peters

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, regulation and governance


Anne Peters1 INTRODUCTION From the beginning, European Community (EC) and European Union (EU) practice has relied on a range of instruments which were not as such legally binding or whose legal status was unclear. Nevertheless, until the turn of the millennium, the concept of European ‘soft law’ was hardly discussed in the legal scholarly literature.2 Although some attention has been paid to interinstitutional agreements (Snyder, 1996 and Hummer, 2004), the overall phenomenon of soft regulation has been much less thoroughly explored on the EU level than it has in public international law. Textbooks and general courses on European Union law still either do not mention soft law at all or only treat it in an extremely cursory fashion with only a few standard examples. Interest in European soft law mounted with the new millennium’s debate on European governance and better regulation (European Commission, 2001a). Soft law and self-regulation are meanwhile envisaged by the European institutions themselves as regulatory alternatives (for example in the Commission’s 2002 Action Plan Simplifying and Improving the Regulatory Environment; European Commission 2002a: 11–12). EU modes of governance can be analysed along the two dimensions of steering methods and of actors. Modes may be called (relatively) ‘new’ when their steering function is characterized by (1) informality and (2) lack of hierarchy, and when private actors (both profit-making and non-profit entities) are systematically involved in policy formulation and/or implementation (Börzel et al., 2005). Joanne Scott and David Trubek highlight the following characteristics of new modes of...

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