The projects of this cluster conducted by political scientists and lawyers mainly focussed on the analytic questions of Execution and Evaluation.
Regulatory expert networks are defined as a set of interacting experts, which are delegated by their national governments, to engage in cross-boundary decision-making in a clearly defined functional area. They engage in the new mode of governance called co-regulation in which public and private actors exchange their specific resources in producing a policy decision (i.e. Florence Energy Forum; PVC voluntary accords). The networks may, however, also be more restrictive and solely consist of public actors with similar functions engaged in decision-making (i.e. European security market regulation; telecommunications regulators' network). The particular policy areas under study in the projects are the regulation of hazardous waste, energy, telecommunications, intellectual property rights, financial markets and foodstuff regulation, social policy and labour relations.
In trying to account for the effectiveness of the new modes in a comparative perspective, the projects applied two different theoretical strands of political science as well as an approach of normative legal reasoning. In investigating the causes of success or failure, the role of a possible link to ‘hierarchy’ in favouring policy success of the new modes was of particular interest. Hierarchy may come in different guises: as a threat of legislation, as an alternative mode of policy making, executive intervention, or the intervening of courts (Héritier, Moral Soriano). Another political science project (Coen and Thatcher), meanwhile, explained the impact of the new modes from the angle of diffusion and learning theory. The exchange of information and learning in regulatory expert networks arguably have an impact on national regulatory styles and policy outcomes. This gradually leads to a convergence in policy practices, in particular if there is a lot of uncertainty about the ‘right’ problem solution. LeGales explored on the other hand when new policy instruments, based on non-hierarchical steering modes, result in policy change. He also examined the contradictions and unintended impact of some policy instruments. The legal normative implications of the operation of the expert regulatory networks were eventually investigated by the lawyer in the cluster (Moral Soriano). She foucssed on the emergence of new guiding legal concepts, i.e. the ‘European’ notion of service public in the provision of electricity.
In pursuing these questions centred around Execution and Evaluation, the projects of the cluster applied different, but complementary, comparative perspectives: they compared the operation and impact of new modes across sectors/policy areas (Héritier/ Varone and de Visscher), as well as across countries (Coen and Thatcher). Finally, they looked at the use of new policy instruments policy sectors, including regional and environmental policy, and state reforms. They thus demonstrated under which conditions the choice of policy instruments contributes to structure policy outcomes and the implementation process in the countries (CEE and SE) under consideration (Le Gales)