Europeans outside the EU: Telecommunications and Electricity Reform in Norway and Switzerland



Norway and Switzerland are two western Europe states that are not members of the European Union (EU), and they are among a number of small and economically open states in which reform of economic sectors is seen to be incremental and reactive. This article poses two questions about the reform of telecommunications and electricity in the two countries. First, what impact has nonmembership of the EU had on the reforms? Second, have their small and open economies and policymaking systems—conceptualized as “social corporatism” in Norway and “liberal corporatism” in Switzerland—had a decisive impact? Some influence from the EU is evident, particularly in telecommunications, but parallels with EU states indicate that nonmembership of the EU, though influential, is not decisive. Although national characteristics matter, social and liberal forms of corporatism are shown to have limited utility. The “actor-centered institutionalism” approach, which allows a more nuanced analysis of actors and national institutions, is better at explaining the reforms.