Emergence of a Supranational Telecommunications Regime

Wayne Sandholtz
Content Type
Working Paper
University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC)
The patchwork of national telecommunications monopolies in the EU was incapable of meeting a rapidly growing need on the part of societal actors for efficient, technologically advanced, cross-border telecommunications. The Commission mobilized various transnational actors -- equipment manufacturers, business users, providers of new services, suppliers of alternative infrastructures -- to support its plans for EU-level liberalization and harmonization. Whereas in a first phase the Commission acted as a source of initiatives and models for states whose policies were in flux, the second phase saw a dramatic shift in the nature of governance. Employing its powers under Article 90 of the Treaty (which does not require Council approval), the Commission set out to abolish national monopolies in telecoms equipment, services, and, finally, infrastructures. The telecoms case thus supports three of the project's central propositions: that societal transactions drive movement toward supranational governance; that changes in EU rules, organizations, and transnational society are interlinked; and that member states do not always control these processes of institutionalization.
Government, International Political Economy, Science and Technology
Political Geography