Chapter 14: Markets, standardization and innovation: reflections on the European Single Market
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In the perspective of political governance, technical standardization is often seen as offering a practical compromise between political regulation and innovation in the market. On one hand, legal regulation is a precondition for markets as regulation provides market actors with relatively stable and calculable conditions. On the other hand, regulation may become a barrier to innovation in the market. A closer look at the history of technical standardization in the European Union (EU) Single Market framework shows that European governance in recent decades has invented modes of regulation that are intended specifically to use technical standardization to spur innovation. This chapter traces this development in policy documents from the EU and from the European technical standardization organizations. The authors conclude that the contradiction of between regulation and innovation has not been removed. Instead, they find a future-orientation of governance that to some degree contradicts the normative function of legal regulation, and they find indications that sometimes the general legal requirements become abstract to a degree that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to tell whether they have been fulfilled or not.

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