Experimentalist governance in the European Union: A commentary


Correspondence: Amy Verdun, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, PO Box 3060, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3R4. Email: averdun@uvic.ca


Sabel and Zeitlin's Experimentalist Governance offers an insight into European governance in those cases where the EU institutions do not have clear competence and where member states are not prepared to accept a unified policy on a problem at hand. Experimentalist Governance identifies four steps of action: agree on common goals, have lower levels propose ways to meet goals, then report on their meeting of goals, and, finally, periodically reevaluate the review procedures. By looking at the developments in EU policymaking through the lens of experimentalist governance (EG), one obtains an appreciation of how goals might be achieved that would otherwise not likely have been achieved through the community method. Sabel and Zeitlin highlight how EG can be effective in obtaining results, integrating peers, and incorporating deliberation, and offer a different way to deal with accountability and legitimacy. This article closes by taking the next step, namely, asking what challenges EG poses to democratic processes.