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Qui Exanimis Nascitur? Can “Better Regulation” in the European Union really be a Servant of Technocracy?

  • Morten JARLBÆK PEDERSEN
Abstract

Better regulation is of grave importance to the European Union, as it is seen as a way of obtaining output legitimacy. To achieve this, the European Commission has established a so-called REFIT Stakeholder Platform where stakeholders’ proposals for more effective and efficient EU law are discussed. The central premise for this meta-regulatory instrument is depoliticisation of the REFIT program and the whole better regulation agenda. To ensure this, the European Commission plays a crucial gatekeeping role by only granting access for proposals that echo that premise and by securing depoliticised deliberation afterwards. Utilising a novel typology linking regulatory reform proposals to the risk of politicisation, the argument advanced in this article is that only a minority of the proposals to be considered by Platform members have a low risk of depoliticisation. This, it is argued, is due to the Commission not having a sufficiently well-developed understanding of the premises for REFIT it has itself established.

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PhD student at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. This article is a result of a research project on sources of better regulation in Denmark and the EU co-sponsored by the Confederation of Danish Enterprise (“Dansk Erhverv”). A previous version of this paper was presented at a seminar held at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in May 2016. The author wishes to thank everyone participating – especially associate professor Manuele Citi, Copenhagen Business School, and the department’s own post.doc. Lars Kai Mäder and PhD student Benjamin Carl Krag Egerod – for critical, yet very valuable ideas and comments. The author also wishes to thank Professor Peter Nedergaard, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, for useful comments on earlier drafts.

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1 European Commission, “Press release – Better Regulation Agenda: Enhancing transparency and scrutiny for better EU law-making”, May 2015, available at <www.europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4988_en.htm> (accessed 31 March 2017).

2 Radaelli, Claudio M, “Towards better research on better regulation” Advanced Colloquium on Better Regulation, Centre for Regulatory Governance, University of Exeter (2007), available at <https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10036/23973> (accessed 27 March 2017); Radaelli, Claudio M, “Whither Better Regulation for the Lisbon Agenda?” (2007) 14 Journal of European Public Policy 190 ; Robinson, William, “Time for Coherent Rules on EU Regulation” (2015) 3 The Theory and Practice of Regulation 257 ; Voermans, Wim, “Concern about the quality of EU legislation: what kind of problem, by what kind of standards?” (2009) 2 Erasmus Law Review 59 .

3 Baldwin, Robert, “Better Regulation: The Search and the Struggle” in Robert Baldwin, Martin Lodge, Martin Cave (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Regulation (Oxford University Press 2010) 259 .

4 Cini, Michelle, The European Commission (Manchester University Press 1996) 16 ; Coombes, David, Politics and Bureacracy in the European Community. A Portrait of the Commission of the EEC (George Allen and Unwin 1970).

5 Harcourt, Alison J and Radaelli, Claudio M., “Limits to EU technocratic regulation?” (1999) 35 European Journal of Political Research 107 , 108.

6 Robinson, supra note 2, 277.

7 Radaelli, Claudio M and Meuwese, Anne CM, “Better Regulation in Europe” (2009) 87 Public Administration 639 .

8 Radaelli, , “Towards better research on better regulation”, supra note 2; Radaelli, Claudio M and de Francesco, Fabrizio, “Regulatory Impact Assessment” in Baldwin, Lodge and Cave (eds), supra note 3, 279 ; Torriti, Jacopo, “Impact Assessment in the EU” (2007) 10 Journal of Risk Research 239 .

9 Baldwin, supra note 3.

10 The concept of output legitimacy and its importance to the EU is, for instance, discussed by Bang, Henrik, Jensen, Mads D, Nedergaard, Peter, “‘We the People’ versus ‘We the Heads of States’: the debate on the democratic deficit of the European Union” (2015) 36 Policy Studies 196 ; Scharpf, Fritz W, Governing in Europe. Effective and Democratic? (Oxford University Press 1999); Scharpf, Fritz W, “Legitimacy in the Multilevel European Polity” (2009) 1 European Political Science Review 173 . For a superficial discussion of the special relationship between regulatory quality and output legitimacy, see

Pedersen, Morten Jarlbæk, “Kilder til output-legitimitet: et overset perspektiv?” (2016) 3 Samfundsøkonomen 14 .

11 European Commission, “Press release - Better Regulation Agenda: Enhancing transparency and scrutiny for better EU law-making”, supra note 1.

12 Pedersen, Morten Jarlbæk, “Defining ‘Better’. Investigating a New Framework to Understand Quality of Regulation” (2016) 18 European Journal of Law Reform 158 .

13 Majone, Giandomenico, “The rise of the regulatory state in Europe” (1994) 17 West European Politics 77 ; Majone, Giandomenico, Regulating Europe (Routledge 1996); Majone, Giandomenico, “The Regulatory State and Its Legitimacy Problems” (1999) 22 West European Politics 1 .

14 European Commission, “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: EU Regulatory Fitness”, COM(2012) 746 final, 3.

15 This conceptual distinction is discussed by Knill, Christoph et al., “Regulatory Policy Outputs and Impacts: Exploring a Complex Relationship” (2012) 6 Regulation and Governance 427 . It is also a central part of the theoretical apparatus developed below.

16 Supra note 14.

17 ibid 4.

18 European Commission, “European Governance – A White Paper”, COM(2001) 428 final.

19 Mandelkern, et al., “Mandelkern Group on Better Regulation: Final Report”, available at <www.ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/better_regulation/documents/mandelkern_report.pdf> (accessed 27 March 2017).

20 Nugent, Neill and Rhinard, Mark, The European Commission (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) 295296 ; Voermans, supra note 2; Weatherill, Stephen, “The Challenge of Better Regulation” in Stephen Weatherill (ed.), Better Regulation (Hart Publishing 2007) 1 .

21 Smismans, Stijn, “Policy Evaluation in the EU” (2015) 6 European Journal of Risk Regulation 6 .

22 Robinson, , supra note 2.

23 Bartl, Aleš, “REFIT of Food Legislation” (2015) 10 European Food & Feed Law Review 84 .

24 Robinson, supra note 2, 260–62.

25 European Commission, “REFIT – making EU law lighter, simpler and less costly”, 2 March 2016, available at <www.ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/refit-platform/index_en.htm> (accessed 27 March 2017).

26 European Commission, “Commission Decision of 19.5.2015 Establishing the REFIT Platform”, C(2015) 3261 final.

27 Ibid recitals 3 and 4.

28 European Commission, “Issues Paper 1. Objectives, Tasks and Work Programme of the REFIT Platform”, Ref. Ares(2016)232801; European Commission, “Issues Paper 2. Rules of Procedure, Working Arrangements and Timeline”, Ref. Ares(2016)232801.

29 European Commission, “REFIT Platform – Invitation to the first Stakeholder group meeting”, Ref. Ares(2016)1168072; European Commission, “REFIT Platform – Invitation to the second Stakeholder group meeting”, Ref. Ares(2016)1168072.

30 European Commission, “Issues Paper 1”, supra note 28, at p. 2.

31 European Commission, “Establishing the REFIT Platform”, supra note 26 Art. 4.

32 ibid Art. 4(3).

33 European Commission, “Issues Paper 1”, supra note 28, 1.

34 Knill et al., supra note 15.

35 For a discussion and definition of this concept, see Pedersen, Morten Jarlbæk and Pasquali, SimonRegelforenkling og administrative lettelser – med panden mod muren?” (2009) 12 Tidsskriftet Politik 65, 6768 .

36 Flyvbjerg, Bent, “Five Misunderstandings about Case-Study Research” (2006) 12 Qualitative Inquiry 219245 .

37 Pierson, Paul, “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics” (2000) 94 The American Political Science Review 251 ; Pierson, Paul and Skocpol, Theda, “Historical Institutionalism in Contemporary Political Science” in Ira Katznelson and Helen Milner (eds), Political Science: The State of the Discipline (WW Norton 2002) 693 .

38 See, for instance, van den Abeele, Eric, “The EU”s REFIT Strategy: A New Bureaucracy in the Service of Competitiveness?”, 2014/05 ETUI Working Paper , 14.

39 Neuendorf, Kimberley A, The Content Analysis Guidebook (Sage 2002); Krippendorff, Klaus, “Testing the Reliability of Content Analysis Data – What Is Involved and Why” in Klaus Krippendorff and Mary Angela Bock (eds), The Content Analysis Reader (Sage 2008).

40 Hall, Peter A, “Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The Case of Economic Policy-making in Britain” (1993) 25 Comparative Politics 275 .

41 Fliedner, Ortlieb, “Gute Gesetzgebung. Welche Möglichkeiten gibt es, bessere Gesetze zu machen?FES-Analyse Verwaltungspolitik, available at <library.fes.de/pdf-files/stabsabteilung/01147.pdf> (accessed 31 March 2017) 7–9.

42 Hansen, Hanne Foss and Pedersen, Lene Holm, “The Dynamics of Regulatory Reform” in Tom Christensen and Per Lægreid (eds), Autonomy and Regulation (Edward Elgar 2006) 328 .

43 Pedersen and Pasquali, supra note 35.

44 Mousmouti, Maria, “Effectiveness as an Aspect of Quality of EU Legislation” (2014) 2 The Theory and Practice of Legislation 309 .

45 Pedersen, supra note 12.

46 See, for instance, Pedersen and Pasquali, supra note 35.

47 Knill et al., supra note 15, 429.

48 ibid.

49 Hansen and Pedersen, supra note 42; Pedersen and Pasquali, supra note 35.

50 European Commission, “Issues Paper 1” and “Issues Paper 2”, supra note 28.

51 Radaelli, Claudio M and de Francesco, Fabrizio, Regulatory Quality in Europe: Concepts, Measures and Policy Processes (Manchester University Press 2007).

52 Baldwin, supra note 3; Radaelli, “Towards better research on better regulation”, supra note 2; Torriti, supra note 8.

53 Mousmouti, supra note 44.

54 Voermans, supra note 2.

55 Pedersen, supra note 12.

56 For example Bormann, Anne Louise et al., Loven. Om udarbejdelse af lovforslag (Jurist- og Økonomforbundets Forlag 2002); Painter, Judge Mark, Legal Writer: 40 Rules for the Art of Legal Writing (Jarndyce & Jarndyce 2009) or the EU counterparts mentioned in Robinson, supra note 2, 263–64.

57 See also Pnnisi, Giulia Adriana, “Plain Language: Improving Legal Communication” (2014) 16 European Journal of Law Reform and the articles following that editorial.

58 Kaeding, Michael, “In search of better quality of EU regulations for prompt transposition” (2008) 14(5) European Law Journal 583 .

59 Radaelli, Claudio M, “Getting to Grips with Quality in the Diffusion of Regulatory Impact Assessment in Europe” (2004) 24 Public Money and Management 271 ; Radaelli, and de Francesco, , supra note 51; Stern, Jon and Holder, Stuart, “Regulatory governance” (1999) 8 Utilities Policy 33 ; Wiener, Jonathan B, “Better Regulation in Europe65 Duke Law School Faculty Scholarship Series, available at <www.ecipe.org/media/publication_pdfs/Better_Regulation_in_Europe.pdf> (accessed 27 March 2017).

60 Hall, Elizabeth et al., “The Consumer Rights Directive – An Assessment of its Contribution to the Development of European Consumer Contract Law” (2012) 8 European Review of Contract Law 139 .

61 Neuendorf, supra note 39.

62 Krippendorff, supra note 39.

63 Renda, Andrea, “Too Good to Be True? A Quick Assessment of the European Commission’s New Better Regulation Package”, CEPS Special Report 108 (Center for Policy Studies 2015).

* PhD student at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. This article is a result of a research project on sources of better regulation in Denmark and the EU co-sponsored by the Confederation of Danish Enterprise (“Dansk Erhverv”). A previous version of this paper was presented at a seminar held at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in May 2016. The author wishes to thank everyone participating – especially associate professor Manuele Citi, Copenhagen Business School, and the department’s own post.doc. Lars Kai Mäder and PhD student Benjamin Carl Krag Egerod – for critical, yet very valuable ideas and comments. The author also wishes to thank Professor Peter Nedergaard, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, for useful comments on earlier drafts.

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European Journal of Risk Regulation
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