Better regulation and the Lisbon agenda
Radaelli, Claudio M.
University of Exeter
This paper assesses the congruence between the initiatives for regulatory reform known as ‘better regulation’ and the recently re-formulated ‘growth and jobs’ Lisbon agenda of the European Union. To do that, better regulation is re-conceptualised as meta-regulation - sets of rules on the process of rule-formulation, adoption, implementation, and evaluation. Meta-regulation has both structural and discursive properties. Better regulation discourse has been re-defined over the years. Its malleability has enabled policy-makers to address different objectives and to push for their shifting regulatory reform agendas. This explains how the better regulation pendulum has been able to swing between regulatory quantity (or de-regulation) and quality across time and even across the same country. In terms of structural properties, there is diversity across time and countries on fundamental issues such as the dominant stakeholders and the contents of regulatory impact assessment. ‘Better regulation’ has been re-defined by the Barroso Commission to fit in with the ‘growth and jobs’ priorities of Lisbon. This re-definition, however, has also narrowed the scope, the range of stakeholders, and the ambitions in terms of governance and regulatory legitimacy. Diversity, proliferation of objectives and better regulation rhetoric make the relationship between meta-regulation, the Lisbon agenda, and, looking at the long-term impact, the dynamics of the regulatory state problematic. The quality-quantity divide and the role played by credibility and regulatory legitimacy are critical for the development of meta-regulation and its impact on the regulatory state.
Conference paper given at the European Evaluation Society Conference: 'Evaluation in Society: Critical Connections', London, October 4th-6th 2006