Delegation to independent regulatory agencies (IRAs) has resulted in the emergence of a new mode of governance in Europe. IRAs execute several crucial functions: they implement national and European law; they advise policy makers (not only governments but also supra-national bodies such as the EU Commission); they have regulatory powers and discretion; they provide information. Most work has focused on how and why IRAs have emerged and on their formal institutional forms. However, IRAs are not passive after delegation; rather, they can forge links and networks with other actors, including in other countries and supra-national bodies. We examined the evolution of these opportunities and the behaviour of IRAs. Specifically, we evaluated how trans-European networks affect the relationships between IRAs and national governments.
The key issues in this project were:
- what different forms of networks and linkages of national IRAs (both formal and informal) have emerged and evolved at the EU level?
- do IRAs and their national governments have similar positions on execution of regulatory issues before those issues are discussed in trans-European networks?
- do these positions evolve as they are executed by trans-European networks?
- what resources do these networks provide IRAs in their relations with national governments (for instance, norms, examples, benchmarks)
- do IRAs use those resources available from trans-European networks in their relationships with their governments and if so, how and with what results?
The project examined IRAs in two key domains: telecommunications; financial services, notably stock exchanges. Both have seen the development of trans-European networks and linkages, and are economically, politically and socially large strategic domains. It analysed the development and participants of these trans-European networks and assessed the links to member states and implications of membership for the new eastern member states. Thereafter, the project compared across regulation by IRAs across countries: Britain, France, and Germany. These countries have different regulatory regimes for IRAs and more generally represent different forms of capitalism.