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Regulatory Governance and the Challenge of Constitutionalism (Feb 2010)

Colin Scott

The late twentieth century witnessed significant shifts in the institutions and processes of governance in most members states of the OECD, as direct provision (sometimes characterised as welfare state governance) was, to some degree, displaced by the rise of the regulatory state. Changes in the nature of state intervention have been accompanied also by fundamental challenges to traditional conceptions of the centrality of the nation state as regards its dominance of key resources (notably taxation and capacities for coercion) and for the maintenance of the rule of law and democracy, as transnational and non-state power have assumed greater significance. In this paper I assess both narrow and broad versions of the challenge presented to the values of constitutionalism by regulatory governance. The narrow constitutionalist critique locates the problem of regulatory governance with the delegation of governmental power to regulatory agencies. A broader constitutionalist critique looks beyond delegation to other organs of the state, and notes that the de-centring of regulatory governance has increasingly implicated both non-state and supranational governmental bodies in regulatory tasks through implicit and explicit delegation and through the assumption of regulatory powers with little or no state involvement. I suggest that one response to the broad critique is to institutionalise broader modes of control and accountability which are best able to match the governance powers which are targeted.

EUI Working Papers RSCAS 2010/07 Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Private Regulation Series-02

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