Explaining regulatory autonomy in EU network sectors: varieties of utility regulation?

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This article explains variation in the autonomy in the range of activities that European regulators perform. By focusing on 102 regulators of four network sectors (electricity, gas, telecom, and railways), we test for functional and institutional explanations. The findings indicate that the inclusion of institutional factors matters for our understanding of recent changes in the governance of European network sectors. Reforms toward the independent agency form of governance and the range of competencies granted to sector regulators seem to be shaped not only by international functional pressures but also by domestic institutional factors. Beyond the credibility hypothesis, we find that national governments grant less regulatory autonomy to utility regulators the more coordinated an economy is and the more veto players are present. On the contrary, common law countries are associated with higher levels of regulatory autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-60
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020
EventECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops - Nottingham University, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Apr 201730 Apr 2017


  • public policy
  • utility regulation
  • European public utility regulators


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