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Governing Telecommunications and the New Information Society in Europe

Edited by Jacint Jordana

European countries have recently been involved in an extremely broad set of regulatory changes to introduce competitive markets into the area of telecommunications. New policies to develop the information society in Europe are also emerging, taking into account the changes in regulations. The contributions included in this book examine several dimensions of these major European issues, including multi-level governance, the instruments used to produce these policy changes, and the European idiosyncrasies of globalisation trends.
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Chapter 4: The Relationship between National and European Regulation of Telecommunications

Mark Thatcher


3802_GovernTelecom/Chap 4 22/8/02 8:55 am Page 1 4. The relationship between national and European regulation of telecommunications Mark Thatcher 1. INTRODUCTION1 Until the mid 1980s, the regulation of telecommunications in Europe was almost entirely a national matter. International organisations had few powers. In particular, the EC (European Community) played little role.2 However, the period from the mid 1980s to the late 1990s saw a remarkable expansion of EC regulation. By the late 1990s, a comprehensive EC regime had been established that covered the entire sector; it prohibited national monopolies and laid down rules governing competition. Analysis of EC regulation has focused on how and why it grew. It has concentrated on the EC level of decision making, often forming part of general debates on European integration (Sandholtz 1998; Thatcher 2001; Schneider, Dang-Nguyen and Werle 1994; Sandholtz 1992; compare Sandholtz and Stone Sweet 1998). Studies have paid much less attention to national politics. The impacts of EC telecommunications regulation on member states are downplayed or even largely ignored. Yet the importance of EC regulation cannot be assumed. The EC may be following existing national practices and regulation, rather than leading them. Its regulations may have little effect on member states. EC regulation is also implemented at the national level - there is no Euro-regulator. The present chapter, therefore, analyses the national politics of European telecommunications. It examines the impacts of EC regulation on institutional reform in member states, notably the formal rules governing competition and the organisational structure of...

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