Emerging Meta-Governance as a Regulation Framework for Public-Private Partnerships: An Examination of the European Union's Approach

Ole Helby Petersen


This article extends previous research on public-private partnerships (PPPs), which has primarily been case study or national context oriented, by examining how these PPPs are regulated in the framework of the European Union (EU). While a number of partnership models have been identified in the academic literature, this study focuses on three significant types of PPP: the contract-PPP, the concession-PPP, and the institutional-PPP. Based on a notion of the EU as a meta-governance framework that guides, steers, and controls PPP activity at national, sector, and project level, the article draws a number of lessons on the EU’s role in regulating the formation phase of PPP. The research demonstrates that this meta-governance framework provides the EU with no direct regulations for the use of the PPP model in the 27 member states, but two sets of regulations which apply if a public authority decides to sign a PPP deal. As the EU hitherto has engaged in regulation of PPP at a somewhat abstract and conceptual level, national and local public administrations are given considerable room for manoeuvre to craft regulations and policies to support or hinder uptake of PPPs. More recently, however, the Commission has raised its stakes by launching a European Partnership Excellence Centre to support policy learning, the spread of best practice, and PPP expert networks.

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