Do New EU Agencies Mean Decreased National Powers? The Case of Chemicals and Norway

FNI Report 14/2014. Lysaker, FNI, 2014, 17 p.

An important aspect of changing EU governance is the expanding role of regulatory agencies.  These agencies have been held to reduce the role of member states in policy-making, shifting powers to the EU level and the intricate technical processes there. For Norway as an EEA country, there are additional, specific formal barriers, like lack of voting rights and being barred from certain lead positions. EU enlargement and the further diversification of member-state interests have been assumed to complicate matters for Norway even further. However, closer scrutiny of the role of Norway in the chemicals agency ECHA challenges this gloomy picture. Compared to pre-ECHA days, where Norway had to hope that the EU Commission would to pick up domestic priorities and act on them, ECHA and the new phase of EU chemicals governance has given Norway room for directly proposing and steering through new legislation. As examined here, the case of mercury regulation is the jewel in the crown for these new possibilities so far.