Handbook on the Politics of Regulation
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Handbook on the Politics of Regulation

Edited by David Levi-Faur

This unique Handbook offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive, state-of-the-art reviews of the politics of regulation. It presents and discusses the core theories and concepts of regulation in response to the rise of the regulatory state and regulatory capitalism, and in the context of the ‘golden age of regulation’. Its eleven sections include forty-eight chapters covering issues as diverse and varied as: theories of regulation; historical perspectives on regulation; regulation of old and new media; risk regulation, enforcement and compliance; better regulation; civil regulation; European regulatory governance; and global regulation. As a whole, it provides an essential point of reference for all those working on the political, social, and economic aspects of regulation.
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Chapter 14: The Independence of Regulatory Authorities

Fabrizio Gilardi and Martino Maggetti


Fabrizio Gilardi and Martino Maggetti 14.1 INTRODUCTION The thesis of the “rise of the regulatory state,” put forward most forcefully by Majone (1994, 1997) well over a decade ago, has proved to be more accurate than many skeptics thought. Regulation has indeed become one of the main governance forms, and the breadth of its spread, across both policy areas and countries, has led some authors to conclude that we are witnessing the rise of a new type of political economy, namely “regulatory capitalism” (Levi-Faur 2005, 2006a). This powerful trend is epitomized by the worldwide establishment and strengthening of independent regulatory agencies, that is, regulators that are not under the direct control of elected politicians. More precisely, they are highly specialized bodies that hold considerable public authority while enjoying the highest discretionality in the public sector (Majone 1996), because they are institutionally and organizationally disaggregated from the ordinary bureaucracy (Verschuere et al. 2006) and constitutionally separated from elected politicians (Thatcher 2002). This type of regulatory authority was once confined to specific sectors (such as financial markets) or countries (the United States), but it has now become common in many policy areas and all countries (Jordana et al. forthcoming). Prominent examples include the Financial Services Authority in Britain, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and the Bundeskartellamt in Germany. This phenomenon is not an academic curiosity; its consequences are concrete and wide-ranging. The spread of independent regulators means that more and more aspects of our lives are shaped by...

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