Patterson, Lee Ann. (1997) "Regulating biotechnology in the European Union: Institutional responses to internal conflict within the Commission". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
The European Union has targeted biotechnology as a key technology for future global competitiveness. Unlike traditional sectoral policies, biotechnology policy cuts across several sectors including agriculture, medicine, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and processed foods and is of interest to environmentalists, ecologists, industry, and researchers at both the pure and applied levels. Consequently, the multi-dimensional nature of biotechnology requires a paradigm shift, for policy-making purposes, from sector specific governance to horizontal governance. This paper explores successive institutional attempts to overcome the inherent structural fragmentation both among the various Directorate Generals (DGs) and between the political and technocratic levels of decision making within the Commission. This fragmentation is exacerbated by the existence of widely differing beliefs and perceptions about biotechnology and the extent to which biotechnological processes require regulation. Early attempts at coordination in the form of the Biotechnology Steering Commission and the Biotechnology Regulatory Interservices Committee were largely unsuccessful, leading to a highly criticized regulatory framework. The Biotechnology Coordination Committee, however, has been largely successful at coordinating inter-DG biotechnology policy. The paper identifies the existence of a policy arbiter with high level political backing and the ability to move freely between the bureaucratic and political sides of the Commission as a key variable in the successful coordination of biotechnology policy.
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