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Putting politics into perspective : A Study of the Implementation of EU public utilities directives

By S.K. Berglund


In the area of public utilities, the member states of the European Union (EU) have agreed on ambitious policies to open up markets for competition and to regulate these markets. To have the expected effect, these policies have to be implemented effectively. In this book it is demonstrated that this is problematic; difficulties appear already in the first step of transposing the directives into national legislation. The analysis of an original quantitative data set including all public utilities directives and their transposition in five member states – the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Greece – shows that almost two thirds of all cases are transposed after the deadlines that are included in the directives. In order to explain problems with the implementation of EU policies, three main types of variables are used in the literature, namely political, administrative, and institutional variables. In recent literature on transposition the focus is on political explanations. However, despite a surge of attention for transposition there is no consensus regarding which type of variable is most important. In this book the focus on political variables is addressed. It is examined if such a focus is well founded, and whether and how different types of variables combine in order to produce the transposition outcome. To this end, a novel approach is taken by developing a theoretical framework that applies implementation theory to transposition. In this framework the three types of variables in the literature on transposition are combined in one coherent framework. The theoretical framework is applied mainly in a case study setting. The transposition of two packages of directives in the fields of telecommunications and energy in the Netherlands, Germany and Greece is studied in detail. The main conclusion is that political factors play an important role for the timeliness of transposition, but that a number of ‘mediating’ variables of institutional, administrative, and legal character are of crucial importance for their effect. Such variables consequently cannot be ignored in an analysis of transposition. Applying implementation theory to transposition is a useful approach as it clarifies how a combination of variables affects transposition delay. The analysis is also relevant for three of the most prominent theoretical concepts put forward in the literature on transposition, namely the number of ‘veto points’ or ‘veto players’, ‘misfit’, and the ‘worlds of compliance’. Regarding ‘veto points’, the current book shows that access to the process that does not involve a veto is also of key relevance, and that this access matters only in combination with other variables. It is also shown that while a high level of ‘misfit’ does lead to political resistance, the concept is too simplistic to be used directly as an explanatory variable. Finally, it is shown that a theoretical framework that combines different types of variables can serve as an alternative to dividing the member states into different ‘worlds of compliance’ in which different variables are of importance

Publisher: Eburon
Year: 2009
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