Characterising EC regulation: emulation, innovation, re-regulation
The thesis characterises European Community (EC) regulation in terms of three levels of ideas, namely that: (a) the EC regulatory process is best understood by particular styles or processes of regulation that the thesis terms emulation, innovation and re-regulation; (b) there are particular determinants or causes of regulation that are best understood as regulatory competition, consensus and co-operation; and (c) a hypothesis can be derived from the review of associated literature to the effect that diffusion of ideas and policy learning leading to consensus and co-operation are often of greater significance than regulatory competition in the EC regulatory process. To this end, taking as a frame of reference the characterisation of styles or processes of regulation as emulation, innovation and re-regulation, the thesis challenges the assumption, prevalent in much of the literature, that the main determinant or cause of EC regulation is regulatory competition among member states seeking to enhance their own competitive position in the European market and reduce the costs associated with legal adjustment. Using evidence from case study material relating to EC regulation of insurance services and drinking water quality the thesis tests the hypothesis that, although the literature has stressed regulatory competition as the main determinant or cause of EC regulation, in practice diffusion of ideas and policy learning are likely to occur, leading to co-operation between actors in a manner that ensures the emergence of a broad consensus on the preferred EC regulatory approach without recourse to regulatory competition at all. The thesis finds that regulatory competition is not, in fact, the only determinant or cause of EC regulation. Instead, diffusion of ideas and policy learning leading to consensus and co-operation are of crucial importance and should be accorded greater significance in the literature than has been the case in the past.