Regulation is the “public administrative policing of a private activity with respect to a rule prescribed in the public interest” (Mitnick, 1980: 30). It encompasses a range of activities, such as the definition and enforcement of public service obligations, company status, competition rules, technical standards, and access prices. In European countries regulatory environments become increasingly complex involving multi-actor, multi-level and multi-sector issues. “Multi-level regulation involves interaction, reinforcing, and colliding rule making and governance at the international, federal, [regional], and city/local community levels. It emerges from varied top-down, bottom-up, and negotiated processes within the state, among states, among [regions] and cities, and among economic and social interests” (Doern & Johnson, 2006).
In this regard, it is an ongoing and ever-increasing endeavour for governments to increase transparency, coordination and consistency in the set of regulations as well as the institutional design of the regulators across these different levels of government. The final aim of the REGUNET project is to evaluate the consequences of multi-level regulation in order to improve its quality and eventually to foster competitiveness and growth in economic sectors (utilities) in Belgium.