Broken promises: the case for regulation

(Transport and Environment, 19 Dec 2023) Is there a thing as too much regulation?

Let’s be honest, all of us working in the Brussels bubble do like a good piece of legislation. This town is often accused of over-regulating. Brexiteers loved to wave that flag. Closing this year, I have decided to do a reality check and see if, when looking at the next Commission, we should only focus on implementation or indeed push for new regulations. 

Something is clear, the world is not going in the right direction. No week passes without a new report coming out that feeds our eco-anxiety. It is clear that action is needed if we want to prevent the worst of the on-going climate and biodiversity emergencies. 

There are two alternatives to regulation. The first one is markets. However, as I learnt in my environmental economic classes, there is a problem when externalities are not factored into the price. That’s almost always the case. The EU’s carbon market – called the Emission Trading System (ETS) – tried to solve a market failure by assigning a price to carbon dioxide. 

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Transport and Environment, 19 Dec 2023: Broken promises: the case for regulation