The briefing aims to give EPHA members an essential overview of ’alternative regulatory mechanisms’ such as self- and co-regulation, the rationale behind, as well as their principles and objectives. By means of examples from the field of public health, the document attempts to outline both the advantages and challenges of self- and co-regulatory processes to enable readers to form informed arguments when advocating for or against the mechanisms to be used in the pursuit of the public interest (public health).

This Briefing has been created as an update of the 2005 EPHA Briefing for Members: An introduction to co-regulation and self-regulation in EU. It also links to EPHA opinion on Self-Regulation, EPHA Briefing on Audio-Visual Media Services Directive, and EPHA opinion on Smart Regulation.

At the European Union (EU) level, the European Commission produced a ’Communication on governance issues in 2002’ which aimed to propose a new kind of “relationship between the state and the citizens”, reform governance, improve public management and “render decision-making more flexible”. Furthermore, the 2009 Commission’s Impact Assessment Guidelines indicate that the European Commission itself should always consider a number of different options ranging from ‘narrow’ legislative actions; framework directives; co-regulation; financial interventions; market-based instruments; information and guidelines; the open method of coordination (OMC); and the monitoring of self-regulation.

The emergence of ‘alternative’ methods of regulation has been motivated by the paradigm of ’New Public Management’ (NPM). The main idea behind NPM is to decentralise traditional hierarchical bureaucracies and to utilise civil society and private sector actors to implement and manage policies. That is expected to reduce costs for governments, increase efficiency in the production of public services, and enhance accountability on the part of the beneficiaries. NPM can be accomplished by applying the rules of competition in the private and public sectors. The main objective is to see the beneficiaries of public services as customers and ultimately as legitimate shareholders.

Given the "necessity of creating conditions favorable to sustainable growth, responsible business behavior and durable employment generation in the medium and long term", the European Commission released, in October 2011, its ’Renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’. The Communications Network, Content and Technology Directorate-General (DG CONNECT) took the lead for Action 5, which proposed to "launch a process in 2012 with enterprises and other stakeholders to develop a code of good practice for self- and co-regulation exercises, which should improve the effectiveness of the CSR process". After an extensive consultative process with the relevant actors, the ’Principles for Better Self- and Co-Regulation’ were published in February 2013.


- [EPHA Briefing] Self- and Co-Regulation in the field of Public Health in the EU (update)


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Last modified on June 25 2014.