Interests or ideas? : The regulation of insurance services and the European single market : trade liberalisation, risk regulation and limits to market integration
This thesis takes as its starting point a set of questions raised by the regulatory politics
school of thought. These questions are addressed from the specific perspective of the
insurance sector during the European single market programme of the late 1980s to
early 1990s. The focus is on German and British sectoral and governmental actors and
their interaction with EC-level institutions (in particular the European Commission),
rules and policies.
The thesis addressesis sueso f regulatory autonomy, regime change, interest
representation and the evolution of norms and ideas in the context of the European
single market. The issues are examined from three interdependent levels of governance:
(a. ) multilateral (the negotiations during the Uruguay Round, leading to the GATS);
(b. ) the European Community level (the Single Market); (Chapter 3 and Chapter 4);
(c. ) domestic policy reform (German reform of insurance regulation in the context of
the Single Market Programme) (Chapter 5).
These sector-specific developments are set into the broader context of the debate
on the nature of European integration. An institutionalist account is contrasted with a
critical evaluation of the realist school of European studies and its origins in public
A central, guiding question is: what different "landscapes" do we perceive if we
observe (de- and re-) regulation through the analytical "lenses" of economic accounts of
regulation and institutionalist approaches?
Public choice theories, it is argued, focus almost exclusively on efficiency
concerns and utility (whether at the level of the individual or at the level of the
company), neglecting broader social ideas that motivate decision-makers, as well as the
impact of institutions on choice and collective strategies.
It is concluded that, despite trade liberalisation and deregulation, regulatory
practices in the insurance sector continue to be driven by normative "road maps",
anchored in and mediated by national institutions and historical experiences