SUPPORTED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION JEAN MONNET CHAIR (2012-3121)
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.
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.
Associated acitivities and publications
Young, Alasdair, “You Can Drive My Car, Otherwise Let it Be: Addressing Product Regulations in the EU’s Asia-Pacific Trade Agreements” Working Paper GTJMCE-2020-1.
“The Distinctive Politics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations,” EU Political Economy Bulletin June 2015.
The European Union as a Global Regulator? special issue of the Journal of European Public Policy, 22/9, 2015. Also published by Routledge in 2016 (ISBN 978-1-138-95138-9).
‘Europe’s Influence on Foreign Rules: Conditions, Context and Comparison’ Author e-print.
‘Liberalizing Trade, Not Exporting Rules: The Limits to Regulatory Coordination in the EU’s “New Generation” Preferential Trade’ Author e-print.
(with J. Peterson), Parochial Global Europe: 21st Century Trade Politics, Oxford University Press, 2014. To read an excerpt from this book, click here. To read a review, click here.
‘Europe as a Global Regulator? The Limits of EU Influence in International Food Safety Standards,’ Journal of European Public Policy, 21:6, 2014: 904-22. Author e-print.