The potential of soft governance in the EU information society: lessons from the EU electronic communications regulatory framework

Simpson, S ORCID: 2011, The potential of soft governance in the EU information society: lessons from the EU electronic communications regulatory framework , in: UK Political Studies Association Annual Conference ‘Transforming Politics – New Synergies’. Panel: ‘The Public Interest and EU Information Society Policy: the Role of Soft Governance’,, 19-21 April 2011, London. (Unpublished)

PDF - Accepted Version
Download (179kB) | Preview


The paper has two key findings. First, the EU’s employment of soft governance as a policy tool to stimulate effective transposition and implementation of agreed measures in telecommunications has been utilised alongside the threat (and use of) hard legal sanction. Though something of a complementary tool in this respect, evidence suggests that it has only been partially successfully. This is clearly illustrated, somewhat ironically, by the claims made by the European Commission in its most recent review of the telecommunications regulatory package, of ineffective compliance by Member States, despite many years of soft governance activity. An interesting feature is the prominent ‘naming and shaming’ aspect of soft governance which has become, in effect, a victim of its own circumstance, since the longer it persists, the more evidence of its only partial effectiveness mounts. It is also the case that such activity can sour relations between the European Commission and national regulatory authorities, with knock on implications for any attempts made by the former to increase its hard regulatory powers of enforcement. Relatedly, the second finding of the paper centres on the EU’s more limited drawing on soft governance as a product of decision-taking, highlighted by the example of the EU’s telecommunications regulatory remedies procedure. The precise outcome here has been ‘hard’ legislation in the shape of a directive which stipulates soft governance measures. The paper argues that, in this case, there is evidence to reinforce existing work which suggests that soft governance has been utilised as a tool of piecemeal inter-institutional political compromise in controversial negotiating circumstances.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Refereed: No
Depositing User: Prof Seamus Simpson
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2011 10:41
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 13:04

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year