The Politics of Regulation and European Regulatory Institutions

Giandomenico Majone

in Governing Europe

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199250158
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599439 | DOI:
 The Politics of Regulation and European Regulatory Institutions

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A distinctive feature of the modern regulatory state is the extensive delegation of powers to politically independent institutions (agencies, boards, commissions, tribunals), and this delegation of legislative powers to unelected policy- makers has always been somewhat problematic from the viewpoint of democratic theory. The American regulatory state has grappled with this issue for more than a century, and regulatory legitimacy is becoming an increasingly important political problem also in Europe, both at national and Community levels. In the United States the ‘non–delegation doctrine’ was the first attempt to resolve the normative problems raised by the emergence of a modern system of administrative regulation, and found widespread acceptance, but the delegation problem is considerably more complicated in the European Community/European Union (EC/EU), where various initiatives have been enacted. In both the United States and in Europe, constitutional doctrines against delegation have unravelled because the practical case for allowing regulatory discretion is overwhelming, so it is impossible to study the politics of regulation without first understanding why political principals choose to delegate rule–making powers. This is the subject of the first section of this chapter, which then goes on to analyse the relation between delegation and agency independence using the concept of political property rights, and to discuss the future of European regulation, and the politics of institutional change.

Keywords: administrative regulation; agency independence; delegation of legislative powers; delegation; democratic theory; Europe; European Community; European regulation; European regulatory institutions; European Union; institutional change; institutions; legislative powers; non—delegation doctrine; political property rights; politics; regulation; regulatory discretion; United States

Chapter.  8065 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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