The FI PPP sets out to address interconnected challenges of technology, economy, society, and politics across the EU that are considered critical for the sustainable development of a networked society. One of the main strategic pillars of the Program – apart from FI technology development (technology ‘push’) – is designed to identify conditions for sustainable absorption of FI technologies through novel models of public private partnerships (PPP), (economic, social and political ‘pull’) among organizations of civil society and the state, at regional, national, European, as well as international levels.
The Program, along with its constituent projects, is currently involved in developing an agenda of emergent issues that will need to be addressed through policy, regulation and indeed broader governance design to support the achievement of the Program objectives.
The present discussion seeks to briefly highlight the key aspects of the analytical framework, currently in development in the CONCORD project in collaboration with the FI PPP projects, to be applied for the identification, mapping and prioritization of these issues.
Broadly speaking, the framework is being constructed around the organizing concept of ‘institutional agenda design’ that has both EU and global dimensions. Current discussions on the institutional topology of FI PPP focus not so much on ‘policy’, or ‘regulation’ as they do on governance. The term ‘governance’ does not refer exclusively to acts or duties of government. The concept is broader, and extends beyond the state apparatus. Governance, apart from institutions, policy, and law includes multiple institutionalized mechanisms, decision-making structures and procedures, norms and technologies, that apportion rights and responsibilities and involves different communities of stakeholders in the definition and implementation of social and political objectives.
Policy and regulation in this context are not blueprinted ‘intervention’ or ‘guidance’ but rather a function of a non-deterministic assessment of the development trajectory of a given FI PPP initiative with the objective to optimize the conditions of its success. In other words, FI PPP-related policies and regulations should be crafted with the input of civil society, business, government, and technical experts in collaboration with broader stakeholder bases.
In terms of its methodology, the framework adopts a ‘dialectical perspective’ that expresses the dialogue between policy and technology. In this perspective, we examine FI PPP policy, regulation and governance from two analytically distinct, but in reality interrelated perspectives: 1) FI PPP policy, regulation and governance as seen from a ‘technology perspective’, 2) Technology as seen from a ‘policy, regulation and governance perspective’.
The merit of this approach is that it opens certain dialogue terrains that cannot be accessed through a single – either ‘technology’ or ‘policy, regulation and governance’ – perspective. The issue is one of interdisciplinarity – but more importantly one of inter-epistemological challenges in constructing effective bridges of communication across diverse stakeholding and decision-making communities involved in the FI PPP – be they in the public or private sectors. In other words, though establishing cross-disciplinary paths of communication across the FI PPP is important, an emerging fundamental issue concerns addressing the challenges of how knowledge is built within different disciplines and stakeholding communities and of establishing knowledge complementarities across them.
One way to construct such bridges is to apply a ‘multilevel governance framework’ that would allow us to explore linkages between EU, national, regional and local/urban policies and ways the strengthening of linkages across them might more effectively address FI PPP challenges. Such a framework calls for the narrowing or closing of the policy ‘gaps’ between levels and sectors of governance through the adoption of mechanisms and tools for vertical and horizontal cooperation.
The vertical dimension recognizes that EU institutions and national governments cannot effectively implement FI PPP strategies without working closely with regional and urban/local governments. It also recognizes that urban/local policy or regulatory authority required to act in areas related to FI PPP is often constrained by institutional frameworks at higher levels. Thus, a two-way – ‘top-down’ / ‘bottom-up’ relationship that involves agencies of the state, government, civil society and individuals – exists between EU, national, regional and urban/local action levels on FI PPP initiatives as each can enable or constrain the other.
The horizontal recognizes the opportunity for information xchange, learning and cooperation across EU, national, regions, and urban/local governance structures. Horizontal governance activities, at sub-national, national and transnational levels, can give government, business, research and non-governmental organizations influence in the FI PPP institutional agenda design process. The horizontal dimension is also associated with improving coordination across EU, national and regional authorities to implement cross-sectoral FI PPP initiatives.
It is by applying consistently this analytical framework that policy, regulation and governance can enable PPP make its full impact on the valorization of FI and, in tendem, achieve the objectives of the FI PPP Program in realizing a European Digital Single Market and an inclusive network society of tomorrow.
Dr. Takis Damaskopoulos, European Institute of Interdisciplinary Research (EIIR) – CONCORD