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Europeanisation of National Economic Orders: competition law and utility regulation

June 2001

The aim of the workshop was to bring together an interdisciplinary group of academics and practitioners to consider the effects of Europeanisation on various policy domains and issues. Three general themes, competition policy, utility regulation and accountability, structured the discussions and a total of nine papers were presented.

Europeanisation of national competition law has been noticeable not only across the EU member states, but on a global scale. Nick Sitter (BI School of Management, Oslo) provided an analysis of the Europeanisation of Scandinavian competition policies, noticing a trend characterised by noticeable differences. Thus, national regimes were Europeanised but national in content. Stefan Enchelmaier (Oxford) provided an overview of the different Europeanisation stages, starting from the provisions of the Treaty, the passing of Regulation 17/62, the wave of national adaptation and the recent 'fourth' wave of Commission-initiated reforms.

Similarly noticeable has been the Europeanisation of national regulatory reforms. David Levy-Faur (Oxford/Haifa) highlighted the diffusion of liberalisation and regulatory reform across the EU member states and Latin America to point to potential linkages and commonalities, Ian Bartle (Exeter) and David Coen (LBS) offered Anglo-German comparisons, highlighting the differences in the institutional arrangements of the national regulatory regimes. While Mark Thatcher (LSE) pointed to the importance of national, non-EU factors in explaining regulatory reform in European telecommunications, Peter Humphreys (Manchester) on broadcasting and Imelda Maher (LSE) on postal liberalisation offered conceptual perspectives on Europeanisation processes.

The issue of accountability remains a key challenge in the regulatory state. Catherine Waddams (East Anglia) illustrated the changing concept of 'accountability' throughout the ages of British utility regulation and suggested different European alternatives of structuring regulatory accountability. The workshop offered distinct views on Europeanisation processes, highlighting its diverse character and impact across sectors. Europeanisation was diagnosed to partly lead to renewed national diversity, conflicts concerning the legitimacy of decision-making by non-majoritarian institutions, increasing interaction and potentially contestation between concepts of economic orders.