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Risk regulation at risk. Brexit, Trump it, Risk it.

Smismans, Stijn ORCID: 2017. Risk regulation at risk. Brexit, Trump it, Risk it. European Journal of Risk Regulation 8 (1) , pp. 33-42. 10.1017/err.2016.5

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How did I get into the field of risk regulation? Well, one could describe it as an occupational health and safety accident. When I started my PhD at the European University Institute mid 1990s, risk regulation was hardly on the horizon. Journals like EJRR and Regulation & Governance did not exist, and my initial PhD proposal was inspired by constitutional, international and EU law, focusing on transborder regional cooperation. However, after a year reading around, and clearing my head driving a scooter in the Florentine hills (without a helmet), my thesis topic had changed from territorially defined to functionally defined actors, and was increasingly inspired by political science, and the growing literature on governance in particular. Still, I was in search of a policy area. Being inclined towards market-correcting policies, my initial preference was for either environmental or social policy. At EU level both are decisively regulatory in nature, but social policy also includes tools and actors resulting from a legacy in redistributive policies. So, it was after a long process of changing focus, background literature, and selection of policy area that I finally ended up with… occupational health and safety regulation (OH&S). As a subsector of social policy, OH&S seems to have it all. At EU level, it operates through all typical regulatory instruments such as comitology and agencies, but it equally has unique elements related to its embeddedness in industrial relations, both in terms of regulatory tools and enforcement mechanisms. In fact (with the exception, maybe, of regulating infectious diseases) OH&S is the area in which risk regulation first really took off. Avoiding accidents and dangerous machinery and substances in the workplace was the start for both the welfare and regulatory state. Yet, despite that legacy, OH&S does not have an extensive research community like other risk regulation areas, such as environmental or food safety regulation. This relative insulation of OH&S meant my research was not particularly led by the key research questions and literatures with which one would inevitably engage when studying risk regulation areas that have a broader research community. Rather, I studied OH&S with a perspective framed more by EU law and governance studies. At the same time, EU lawyers discouraged me from engaging in the study of OH&S as they believed my topic could be analysed independently from any particular policy area and assumingly therefore reach a wider audience. But I had fallen in love with the nerdy

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Cambridge Unversity Press
ISSN: 1867-299X
Funders: European Research Council
Date of Acceptance: 9 March 2017
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 07:48

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