Electricity Regulation in the European Union: Uniform, Differentiated or Experimentalist?
54 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 5 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 3, 2020
This paper examines six major policy issues within EU electricity regulation, a case study chosen both for its intrinsic importance and because its interdependence, politicization and volatility make it a plausible candidate for uniform, differentiated, and experimentalist regulation. It finds that although EU electricity regulation is characterized by an ambition to uniformity due to the especially strong interdependence of electricity systems, no matter how uniform EU rules might be, they always leave some space for diversity. Contrary to differentiated integration expectations, divisions of member states into separate groups of “ins” and “outs” governed by different rules played virtually no role, despite the high interdependence and entrenched politicization characterizing the European electricity sector. Instead, in line with experimentalist governance expectations, prompted by environmental volatility and aware of persistent diversity, policy actors often made provisions to monitor and learn from such lower-level diversity in order to review and revise higher-level rules. Nonetheless, the use of lower-level diversity in experimentalist processes actually led to the generation of gradually more uniform rules which, accompanied by rapid and frequent revision of these rules based on review of implementation experience, suggests that experimentalist governance may be undertaking a metamorphosis in some sectors toward synchronic uniformity and diachronic revisability. Finally, in all the policy issues studied substantive EU rules applied also to countries beyond the Union, as posited by external differentiated integration; in most of them, moreover, non-member state actors also participated in the processes for creating and revising such rules, as described in extended (experimentalist) governance.
Keywords: experimentalist governance, differentiated integration, uniform regulation, European Union, electricity
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation