Independent Regulatory Agencies in Western Europe
Chapter 7: Conclusion
INTRODUCTION The conclusion has three parts. We will ﬁrst sum up the main ﬁndings discussed in this book. Second, we will argue that the quantitative analysis presented here can be usefully employed to go back to the cases with a strong analytical focus, because it helps identify relevant cases for case studies and qualitative comparisons. The case of the German energy regulator will be reviewed, and other suggestions put forward. Finally, we will discuss the broader issues raised by this book, including the link between formal and informal independence, the consequences of agenciﬁcation for regulatory policy making, and the importance of interdependence and diﬀusion for the study of regulation. DELEGATION TO INDEPENDENT REGULATORY AGENCIES: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT? What have we learned about delegation to IRAs? First, the credibility hypothesis receives strong conﬁrmation. Credibility pressures increase both the probability that an independent regulator will be established and the extent of its formal independence. Supportive evidence is that delegation is more extensive in economic regulation in general, and in utilities in particular, than in social regulation, and that independent agencies are more likely to be established when utilities are privatized and/or liberalized. This pattern is consistent with our expectations linked to the credibility argument, which states that credibility problems are present when governments have to deal with investors, which is the case in economic regulation. However, the problem is most severe in utilities because of the high sunk costs present in these sectors, and because the recent market...
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