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A Decade of Defining the Lisbon Process: The End of the EU's Regulatory State?

Mitchell Smith

The original pronouncement of the Lisbon objective in 2000 rhetorically balanced social objectives, environmental sustainability, and economic competitiveness. By mid-decade, a relaunched Lisbon process came to focus much more narrowly on job creation and growth. By decade's end, a more deeply embedded Lisbon process in essence implied subjecting all single market regulation to scrutiny for the cost burden imposed on industry. This paper examines the process through which the Lisbon objective came to rest on a narrow definition of economic competitiveness focused on minimizing compliance costs for industry. Mechanisms that contributed to this sharpening of the Lisbon goals involve all three major EU policy making institutions, including the creation and rise of the Competitiveness Council; the hegemonic status attained by industrial impact assessment in Commission's legislative proposal process; and more effective access of organized industry interests at critical points within the European Parliament.The study will document (in part through a content analysis of European Parliament debates focused on invocations of the 'Lisbon objectives') and analyze the nearly decade-long process of refinement of the meaning of the Lisbon objective. The paper will then consider the significance of this process for the EU's model of regulatory governance.

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