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Germany, Europe, and the Politics of Constraint$
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Kenneth Dyson and Klaus Goetz

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262955

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262955.001.0001

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Electricity and Telecommunications: Fit for the European Union?

Electricity and Telecommunications: Fit for the European Union?

Chapter:
(p.251) 12 Electricity and Telecommunications: Fit for the European Union?
Source:
Germany, Europe, and the Politics of Constraint
Author(s):

Simon Bulmer

David Dolowitz

Peter Humphreys

Stephen Padgett

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197262955.003.0012

This chapter examines the processes and outcomes of Europeanization in the German utilities sectors. Employing an institutionalist perspective, it focuses on interaction between the institutional system of the EU and that of Germany. The chapter argues that adaptation pressures are reduced by Germany's ability to exert ‘soft’ power to ensure that EU policy is congruent with domestic governance. The tempo of EU reform is particularly significant. Incremental legislation in telecommunications permitted Germany to liberalize at its own pace in line with domestic policy style. In electricity, by contrast, the 1996 Directive created more acute adaptation pressures. Thus, in telecommunications Germany was activist in ‘downloading’ EU legislation in line with EU requirements. In electricity, it made considerable use of the zone of discretion in the Directive to minimize the impact on domestic governance. In examining the way in which Germany responds to adaptation pressures, particular attention is given to opportunity structures, veto points, and institutional norms in the domestic policy process. The experience of the electricity reform suggests that adaptation pressures are exacerbated by a highly pluralist institutional regime with numerous veto actors capable of blocking implementation. Moreover, German reluctance to embrace independent, sector-specific regulation suggests the resistance of domestic regulatory norms to the effects of Europeanization.

Keywords:   German utilities, soft power, EU policy, telecommunications, liberalization, power sector, electricity reform

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