International Networks as Drivers of Agency Autonomy. The Case of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council
Regulatory agencies may benefit from but also contribute to the extension of network governance worldwide. To develop this argument, this paper explores a basic mechanism relating agencies’ institutional consolidation to this new form of governance in recent decades. While not discarding the relevance of de jure autonomy, our argument suggests that agencies gain de facto in autonomy when they reach a key role within domestic and international governance networks. Thus, we should expect agencies to promote their relevance as network nodes capable of transmitting information and expertise among multiple actors and levels as a way of obtaining more centrality and autonomy in their policy area. This research is based on a case study of the Spanish nuclear regulatory agency (Nuclear Safety Council), which highlights how its involvement in governance networks promotes the agency’s de facto autonomy.