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Policy Learning in Embedded Negotiations: Explaining EU Electricity Liberalization

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  • Eising, Rainer

Abstract

Taking the example of the liberalization of the electricity supply industy, I analyze member-state negotiations in the European Union (EU). Confronting central tenets of the intergovernmental approach, I suggest that member-state executives act within the limits of bounded rationality and do not always hold clear and fixed preferences. I focus on the large member states Germany, France, and the United Kingdom and identify four institutional mechanisms that support outcomes above the least common denominator: (1) the role of norms that constrain strategic action and frame the negotiations, (2) the empowerment of supranational actors, (3) the decision routines of the Council of the European Union that provide standardized mechanisms for resolving conflicts and induce policy learning and preference changes, and (4) the vertical differentiation within the Council system that can unblock issue-specific controversies. Even if as a result of these techniques EU legal acts contain several flexibilization elements, they can trigger behavioral changes that clearly surpass their regulatory content.

Suggested Citation

  • Eising, Rainer, 2002. "Policy Learning in Embedded Negotiations: Explaining EU Electricity Liberalization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 85-120, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:56:y:2002:i:01:p:85-120_44
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    1. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8529 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Böhling, Kathrin, 2002. "Learning from environmental actors about environmental developments: the case of international organizations," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Organisation and Technology FS II 02-110, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Eva Niesten & Albert Jolink, 2014. "Absence of a market in the Dutch balancing mechanism: European rules versus specific investments," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 71-90, August.
    4. Höpner, Martin & Schäfer, Armin, 2010. "Polanyi in Brussels? Embeddedness and the three dimensions of European economic integration," MPIfG Discussion Paper 10/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    5. Gerda Falkner, 2011. "Interlinking neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism: Sidelining governments and manipulating policy preferences as "passerelles"," Working Papers of the Vienna Institute for European integration research (EIF) 3, Institute for European integration research (EIF).
    6. Cornelia Woll, 2005. "Learning to Act on World Trade. Preference Formation of Large Firms in the United States and the European Union," Sciences Po publications 05/01, Sciences Po.
    7. Christina J. Schneider & Johannes Urpelainen, 2014. "Partisan Heterogeneity and International Cooperation," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 58(1), pages 120-142, February.
    8. Jean-Philippe Bonardi & Santiago Urbiztondo & Bertrand V. Quelin, 2009. "The political economy of international regulatory convergence in public utilities," International Journal of Management and Network Economics, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(2), pages 232-256.
    9. Vassilis Monastiriotis, 2008. "Quo Vadis Southeast Europe? EU Accession, Regional Cooperation and the need for a Balkan Development Strategy," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 10, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    10. Woll, Cornelia, 2005. "Learning to Act on World Trade: Preference Formation of Large Firms in the United States and the European Union," MPIfG Discussion Paper 05/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    11. Witold J. Henisz & Bennet A. Zelner & Mauro F. Guillen, 2004. "International Coercion, Emulation and Policy Diffusion: Market-Oriented Infrastructure Reforms, 1977-1999," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-713, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    12. Dederke, Julian, 2014. "Bahnliberalisierung in der Europäischen Union: Die Rolle des EuGH als politischer und politisch restringierter Akteur bei der Transformation staatsnaher Sektoren," PIPE - Papers on International Political Economy 20/2014, Free University Berlin, Center for International Political Economy.
    13. Cornelia Woll, 2005. "Learning to Act on World Trade. Preference Formation of Large Firms in the United States and the European Union," Working Papers hal-01065571, HAL.
    14. Tosun, Jale & Solorio, Israel, 2011. "Exploring the Energy-Environment Relationship in the EU: Perspectives and Challenges for Theorizing and Empirical Analysis," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 15, November.
    15. Clifton, Judith & Díaz-Fuentes, Daniel & Revuelta, Julio, 2009. "Explaining Telecoms and Electricity Internationalization in the European Union: A Political Economy Perspective," MPRA Paper 33037, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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