Funded by the European Commission. Jean Monnet Chair (2012-3121). 2012-2015
In response to the proliferation of regulations by a growing number of states, the European Commission has prioritized addressing regulatory barriers in bilateral trade negotiations and advocated regulatory convergence at the multilateral level. This project critically interrogated the EU’s ability to influence regulations beyond its borders.
The core objectives of the project were to generate and disseminate knowledge about the EU’s influence in the global governance of technology. The launch of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment negotiations in 2013, given the emphasis on regulatory cooperation, provided a particular focus to the project and increased its salience for the general public and various policy communities.
1) expanding and developing the provision of teaching on the European Union at Georgia Tech. Two new courses — ‘The Global Politics of Technology Regulation’ and ‘Transatlantic Economic Relations’ – were created and taught all three years and I taught International Political Economy – with heavy EU content – throughout the three-year award period.
2) launching a new research agenda on the role of the EU in the global governance of technology. This agenda resulted in numerous publications.
3) the project would facilitate engagement with local civil society on issues associated with the EU’s regulation of technology and role in the global governance of technology. There were two dimensions to this objective: engaging civil society members in public events organized under the Jean Monnet Chair and by giving talks stemming from the project to civil society organizations.
Summary of the main results
The European Union’s regulations are widely perceived as affecting how business is conducted and consumers and the environment protected in parts of the world far beyond its borders. While, the EU’s rules certainly have global significance, this project produced three main findings that qualify the common depiction of the EU as a dominant global regulator.
First, the EU’s regulatory influence varies systematically across different forms of regulatory interaction: regulatory competition and different forms of regulatory cooperation. Depictions of the EU as an influential international regulator in the academic literature and in the media are informed primarily by examples of regulatory competition, in which firms or governments unilaterally adjust to or adopt EU rules. By contrast, the literature on regulatory cooperation finds little evidence of the EU influencing the regulations of other states; the ‘gold standard’ of regulatory influence. This observation, which is surprising given the EU’s considerable regulatory power resources, has gone largely unexplained beyond individual cases. This project argues that the utility of the EU’s regulatory power resources varies in predictable ways depending on the form of regulatory interaction, whether it is regulatory competition or one of the different forms of regulatory cooperation: power-based bargaining with the ability to exclude others from the EU’s market; power-based bargaining without the ability to exclude others from the EU’s market; and rule-mediated negotiation. The form of regulatory interaction, therefore, is a critical variable affecting how the EU’s regulatory power resources translate into influence.
Second, within the different forms of regulatory cooperation the EU’s influence varies in line with expectations derived from the literature. Within any given form of regulatory interaction, the EU’s regulatory influence is likely to be greater, the larger its market, the more stringent its rule, and the greater its regulatory capacity relative to its interlocutor(s). That said, difference in rule stringency may be sufficiently great that the costs of adjustment outweigh the benefits, thus imposing a limit on the EU’s influence irrespective of its other advantages.
Third, the magnitude of the EU’s influence seems to be considerably less in regulatory cooperation than suggested by the literature on regulatory competition; a finding that reinforces the argument that EU influence is contingent and thus varies across forms of regulatory cooperation.