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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anthony Zito
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Throughout the international community - and specifically in the European Union - there is an increased focus on 'new modes of governance', for three different - but sometimes interrelated - reasons: achieving more efficiency and better delivery, creating the pre-conditions for participatory governance, and modernizing the regulatory system. The debate on 'what public policies can really achieve', how they can 'bring society back in', and whether 'smart regulation' is rhetorical smoke or substance raises all sorts of problems, ranging from definitional issues to substantive questions of policy accountability and legitimacy. What 'new modes of governance' boil down to, however, are the instruments chosen by governments. This Symposium discusses the politics of new modes of governance in the EU from this advantageous angle. In doing so, it gains in specificity and allows comparisons across policies, although at the cost of missing something of the 'grand' debate on 'government' and 'governance'. Policy instruments are the tools used to achieve policy objectives (Howlett and Ramesh 1993). In the EU context, 'new' policy instruments include codes of conduct, eco-labels, scoreboards, benchmarking, best practice, high-level fora, voluntary agreements, co-regulation and other tools. This European Forum Symposium is governed by no particular theoretical orthodoxy. The papers use a variety of theoretical explanations to new policy instruments. While it is an important and dynamic area in the EU governance picture, soft law does not encompass all the new instruments present in the system. Instruments can be legally binding and quite 'hard' in terms of their regulatory impact (an example being economic instruments like taxation). There may be substantial shades of 'soft' and 'hard' policy instruments: soft law may be used in an extremely hard way (environmental voluntary agreements, for instance, are binding in The Netherlands). One of the key findings here is that the instruments discussed in this Symposium may not be all that 'new' in areas such as social policy and the environment. Equally, how much substantial impact these 'new' types of instruments have on a sector needs to be evaluated. As several papers note, considerable amounts of EU innovation actually may be centred on the modification of older instruments as well as on the creation of a mix where the new instruments complement the traditional regulations in place.
Author(s): Zito AR, Radaelli CM, Jordan A
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Public Administration
ISSN (print): 0033-3298
ISSN (electronic): 1467-9299
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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