Experimentalist governance in the EU: The emperor's new clothes?


Correspondence: Tanja A. Boerzel, Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin, Ihnestr. 21, Berlin 14195, Germany. Email: tanja.boerzel@fu-berlin.de


Most students of the EU agree by now that it is best described as a governance system. There is far less consensus on what kind of governance the EU actually features: modern, postmodern, network, cooperative, innovative or simply new? Sabel and Zeitlin have advanced yet another concept. This paper discusses the added value of their “experimentalist governance” (EG), as presented in an edited volume published in 2010, for understanding and explaining the nature of EU policymaking, addressing four questions: First, to what extent is EG distinct from existing concepts of governance? Second, how pervasive is EG in the EU when compared to alternative forms of governance? Third, what is the effect of EG on EU policy outcomes, on the one hand, and the overall architecture of the EU, on the other? Finally, does EG solve or exacerbate the EU's democratic deficit?