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Of Phones and Planes: Policy Transfer in the Liberalization of EU Public Services

Bulmer, Simon, and Humphreys, Peter. (2007) Of Phones and Planes: Policy Transfer in the Liberalization of EU Public Services. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. Our paper explores the utility of the concept of policy transfer for analysing the dynamics of the EU policy process. Specifically, the paper examines the liberalisation of two of the so-called utilities sectors: telecommunications and passenger air transport. Both sectors had traditionally been regarded through (western) Europe as public service activities. However, accompanying the creation of the single European market, both sectors moved incrementally to a liberalised set of regulatory arrangements in which the EU served as the key policy-making arena. Today, of course, consumers are presented with a range of service providers in both sectors: low-cost and full-service airlines offering intra-EU and domestic services;2 and competing suppliers of a growing array of telecommunications services in fixed-line, data and mobile telephony as well as broadband/internet. The character of the two sectors has been revolutionised over the last two decades and the EU has played a pivotal role in both sets of developments. We utilise the concept of policy transfer in this paper because it allows a single framework to be applied to the different stages of the policy process: from the formulation to the transposition stages. Adapting Dolowitz and Marsh, we understand policy transfer to mean the process by which ideas, policy, administrative arrangements or institutions in one political setting influence policy development in another political setting, mediated by the institutional system of the EU.3 The three stages at which policy transfer may take place are as follows: during the negotiation of EU policy; in putting policy into practice at EU level; and (where applicable) in operationalising policy at the member state level. An institutionalist account is offered of these stages, identifying key variables that may constrain or facilitate policy transfer. Important exogenous components of the account in sectors such as these are globalization and technological change. Policy transfer, we argue, offers a more neutral terminology for identifying these forces when compared with the ubiquitous rival terminology of Europeanisation, which runs the risk of privileging the EU as the driver of domestic policy change when other forces may well be at work. In the next section we set out our analytical framework. We then prepare the empirical analysis of the two sectors by offering a review of their (differing) characteristics. There then follow two sections which explore policy transfer at two separate stages of the policy process: the construction of the respective EU policy regime; and its subsequent operationalisation. In the case of the latter we focus particularly on operationalisation at EU level because a striking contrast between the two sectors is that air transport is essentially regulated at supranational level, whereas the telecommunications sector entails multi-tiered regulation and discretion on the part of the national regulatory authorities (NRAs). In both these sections of the paper we offer an institutionalist interpretation of change, while keeping in mind the sectoral dynamics deriving from international forces and technological advances.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Air transport; policy transfer.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > telecommunication policy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > transport policy
    Other > integration theory (see also researching and writing the EU in this section)
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2008
    Page Range: p. 21
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:49

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