The Role of the EU in Transnational Regulation of Food Safety: Extending Experimentalist Governance?

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This paper explores how far experimentalist features of the EU’s internal food safety governance regime are being extended to the Union’s external governance of food safety. Hence, it analyses whether and how far the Union’s engagement with both third countries and global institutions displays features of experimentalism. Our analysis shows that while the EU constitutes a powerful global standard setter in the field of food safety, its unilateral role is to some extent mitigated by both its cooperative engagement with third countries at the bilateral level and by its embeddedness within multilateral global governance institutions, such as the WTO and the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Furthermore, our analysis of two crucial institutional mechanisms of EU’s external food safety governance, namely the EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) and the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) shows that both are designed, and often function well as reflexive institutions with strong features of de-centralised implementation, reporting and peer review, as well as learning and recursive revision of rules. Both FVO and RASFF provide important opportunities for third countries to participate in the Union’s internal governance and rule-making processes. However, reviewing the performance of both institutions in previous food crisis situations, the analysis also reveals some important shortcomings in their practical functioning as experimentalist tools, which calls for the further improvement of these mechanisms.