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Beyond Rhetoric: Closing the Gap between Policy and Practice in the EU's Regulation of Risky Technologies

Hamlyn, Olivia Alice; (2018) Beyond Rhetoric: Closing the Gap between Policy and Practice in the EU's Regulation of Risky Technologies. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Several decades of research in the social sciences, particularly science and technology studies, have demonstrated both the political and controversial nature of technological innovation and the limitations of regulating its implications solely by reference to scientific assessments of its risks. This has led to calls for greater socio-technical integration in regulatory decision-making in recognition of the values, commitments and concerns underpinning both risk assessment and societal attitudes to risk. Much EU policy on regulating risk technologies acknowledges these findings and commits to enhancing socio-technical integration in its decision-making, often through enhanced public participation and debate. Much EU law, however, remains committed to a model of regulation based on scientific risk assessment resulting in a gap between EU policy and practice. This thesis investigates reasons for the persistence of this gap. Taking pesticides and synthetic biology as example technologies and examining their associated governance discourses (sustainability and responsible research and innovation, respectively) this thesis explores the opportunities provided for enhancing socio-technical integration in the regulation of those technologies. It focuses on the ways in which the legal and policy frameworks of both operate to deprive those two discourses of their potential and thereby contribute to maintaining the policy-practice gap. It derives further insights into the persistence of the policy-practice gap by looking beyond those specific technologies to the EU internal market, the WTO regime and wider EU policy on innovation. It argues firstly that science is frequently attributed priority of agency in determining the existence of a problem warranting the law's response, excluding other perspectives. It argues secondly, that the weight of EU policy commitment to economic competitiveness, technological progress and commercialisable innovation to realise its future visions fundamentally undermines its commitment to, and ability to achieve, enhanced socio-technical integration. The policy-practice gap remains.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Beyond Rhetoric: Closing the Gap between Policy and Practice in the EU's Regulation of Risky Technologies
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10026234
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