Unveiling patterns of contestation over Better Regulation reforms in the European Union.

Unveiling patterns of contestation over Better Regulation reforms in the European Union.

Adriana Bunea and Raimondas Ibenskas. Public Administration 95(3): 589-604. (DOI: 10.1111/padm.12335).

Regulatory reforms labelled ‘Better Regulation’ are a prominent item on the political agendas of most advanced democracies and the European Union. Governments adopt Better Regulation measures to strengthen their democratic legitimacy and increase their regulatory and economic effectiveness. Notwithstanding their rhetorical appeal, their design and implementation are susceptible to high levels of political contestation. We therefore ask: are there systematic differences in stakeholders’ demands for what Better Regulation should achieve? What explains these differences? We argue that conflict over Better Regulation is rooted in what stakeholders prefer as a regulatory system of governance. Stakeholders demand reforms that lead to one of the following three scenarios: deregulation, technocratic or participatory policy-making. We examine stakeholders’ demands expressed in the EU. We find that national authorities responsible for coordinating Better Regulation and cross-sectoral business organizations support deregulatory and technocratic reforms. Business and public interest organizations are equally supportive of strengthening participatory policy-making.