Utilities in Europe
Edited by David Coen and Adrienne Héritier
Chapter 4: Changing Business–Regulator Relations in German and UK Telecommunication and Energy Sectors
David Coen INTRODUCTION In light of the liberalisation of European telecommunication and energy markets, sector-specific regulation has emerged at both the national and the European level to protect consumers against possible monopoly abuse. However, the ‘Europeanisation’ of economic policy has not brought with it a concomitant harmonisation of national regulatory authorities (NRAs) across sectors or countries. When looking at the UK and Germany we are presented with contrasting cases not only in the speed of liberalisation, but also in the style of regulatory management. While independent regulatory agencies dominate in the UK, with distinct and clearly defined functions, the German regime is characterised by a strong emphasis on the role of sector-specific competition law and the procedural courts. With regulators seeking to foster competition while at the same time maintaining essential services in both regimes, we investigate how firms access and influence these emerging NRAs and the policy process, and how firms and regulators manage the day-to-day implementation of regulation. Recognising that post-delegation, NRAs had varying degrees of discretion to establish new business-regulatory norms and independence from government intervention, as well as noting that how business lobbied/dealt with NRAs had serious implications for the emergence of competition and shaping of regulatory powers in the future, we organised 50 interviews with business and regulatory officials (see Appendix for full list). In this study of business-regulatory interaction we sought to answer five key questions. First, how do firms access and influence multiple regulatory authorities at the national and European level? Second, what...
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