Legitimacy in the EU single market: the role of normative regulatory governance
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The thesis examines European legitimacy and regulatory governance. The research analyzes the link between regulatory governance and legitimacy in EU regulation and evaluates whether governance tools in the form of qualitative administrative criteria can contribute to European regulatory legitimacy. Governance here refers to the exercise of delegated regulatory powers by the European Commission. The question of whether the adoption of qualitative regulatory governance practices can enhance the supranational regulatory legitimacy of the European Commission has been underexamined in the literature typically without distinguishing the analysis from the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU. Using a case study from the telecommunications sector, the thesis conducts such an examination using a documentary method. To create the analytical context, the thesis distinguishes the theoretical concept of legitimacy for a transnational regulator from that of a national regulator of a sovereign state. The choice is made to use a form of normative regulatory legitimacy drawn from the scholarship on regulatory governance theory. An analytical model is constructed that reflects criteria and values that bear upon legitimacy so as to constitute a meaningful alternative to democratic forms of regulatory accountability. Regulation was defined in the research to cover policy instruments, in the form of measures of positive and negative integration, adopted for the EU single market under Article 106(3) and Article 114 TFEU. The analysis evaluates the regulatory governance used by the European Commission over a twenty-three year time period in which the telecommunications sector was entirely liberalized and harmonized. Analysis revealed that, while the Commission has improved the quality of its regulatory governance in principle, its use of normative regulatory governance in practice requires further attention, notably in respect of improving the evidence base for policy proposals and in creating a meaningful form of empirical feedback in evaluating regulatory outcomes, corresponding to an ex post accountability mechanism. On the other hand, the research validated the premise that a transnational regulator could purposively use regulatory governance as a tool with which to construct a defensible form of regulatory legitimacy.