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IP 4: Democratic governance in and through trans-governmental networks

Increasing globalization and regionalization give salience to the role of trans-governmental networks in dealing with trans-boundary challenges. Trans-governmental networks are non-majoritarian institutions equipped with a certain amount of authority and a number of regulatory competences and are neither elected by popular vote, nor directly managed by elected officials. Such networks, composed of state executives below the level of central government, have become an integral part of EU and global governance. In these fora, regulators exchange information, develop common regulatory standards, and assist one another in enforcing such standards in their respective jurisdictions. To some extent, voluntary and often rather informal coordination schemes among trans-governmental actors have developed into a new layer of international cooperation beyond or below the formal level of intergovernmental multilateralism. One example is the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) which sets standards and best practices in banking supervision (such as the “Basel III” accord). In other words, it is not just governments which develop international standards; bureaucrats and experts also increasingly do so.

While research into trans-governmentalism has hitherto mainly focused on the effectiveness of this cooperation in terms of political problem-solving, the project will focus on questions of whether (a) this kind of cross-border, inter-administrative rule-making poses a challenge to democracy, or (b) whether it contributes to greater democratic governance and legitimacy in global politics. The project will tackle these questions not just by analyzing EU and global trans-governmental networks in isolation but also by studying both citizens’ perception of them and their representation in the media. In doing so, the project intends to reach a more profound understanding of the democratic quality and challenges of such rather novel forms of political cooperation.

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Project leaders:
Prof. Tina Freyburg, University of St. Gallen
Prof. Sandra Lavenex, University of Geneva

Research assistants:
Ivo Krizic, University of Geneva
Ciaran O'Flynn, University of St. Gallen
Reto Wuest, University of Geneva