Radio Spectrum Policy in the European Union: Shared Competence and the Issue of Democratic Legitimacy of Implementing Acts

2018 Young Scholar Recipient


  • Maria Massaro, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden


Paper Slides


The European Commission (EC) recently proposed to expand its power to regulate radio spectrum assignment, in order to harmonize radio spectrum use across the European Union (EU). Delegating the EC such power would substantially impact on the existing division of competence between EU and EU member states. Since no consistent research has been conducted on the issue of competence distribution in radio spectrum policy, this paper adopts an historical perspective to trace changes of competence distribution between EU and EU member states over time. EU law in radio spectrum policy is organized in four stages of development showing how expansion of EU law contributed to strengthening the EC’s executive power. Focusing on the current stage, this paper concludes that delegating to the EC the power to decide on spectrum assignment may not contribute to radio spectrum harmonization because of lack of democratic legitimacy contested to the EC’s executive acts by the EU member states. This paper confirms existing literature which suggests that, in policy areas where transfer of competence to the EU is contested, EU objectives may be reached by implementing soft policy instruments which facilitate
voluntary cooperation and mutual learning.

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