The quest for coordination, A study into the influence of interdependency in European Regulatory Networks on non-central coordination of the practical implementation of EU legislation
Boetzelaer, K.G. van
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Regulation is one of the most important aspects of the European Union. However, due to a lack of administrative capacity to implement Community rules, the EU is entirely dependent on the Member States for the implementation of regulation . More specifically, National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) are increasingly responsible for the execution, inspection and enforcement of EU regulation. Although NRAs are present in every member state, great differences exist between them across Europe. This causes the implicit danger that the various national norms and institutions may not fully harmonize with each other; and this may lead to asymmetries in the practical implementation of European norms. To make sure European Regulation is inspected and enforced as uniform as possible, the European Commission has designed so-called Transnational Regulatory Networks (TRNs). These TRNs are made up of experts and representatives of NRAs and are given the task of coordinating and increasing consistency of supervision and enforcement of regulation across Europe. Despite this ambitious goal, TRNs lack the formal instruments to reach coordination . In combination with the differences between NRAs, coordination does not seem to be self-evident in TRNs. This feeling gains strength when we take into account that several studies tell us that coordination is a difficult challenge in every policy system . To face these coordination challenges in policy systems, hierarchical organization and central control are often the common answer. However, this not possible in the case of TRNs, since member states resist the European centralization of powers . Non-central coordination is the main alternative for central control or hierarchical organizing. However, in most of those non-central coordination cases the participants have incentives to work together and are interdependent. But can non-central coordination also be reached when there is no need or incentive to coordinate? That is the question the study at hand tried to answer: two TRNs and four directives, that take in different positions on the interdependency continuum, were compared to see if the level of interdependency influences non central coordination. The empirical results were telling: they showed a significant linear correlation between the level of interdependency and non-central coordination. The higher the level of interdependency, the more the practical implementation of the four directives was (non-centrally) coordinated in TRNs. This implicates that non-central coordination, as an alternative to hierarchy and central control, only works in the case of clear intrinsic incentives and needs of participants. Otherwise, the European Commission might want to deliberate on the possibilities of central coordination, the use of binding regulations instead of directives or a central EU agency, when aspiring harmonization in the EU.