Speaker(s): Professor David Vogel
Chair: Dr Robert Falkner
Recorded on 10 May 2012 in New Theatre, East Building.
Since 1990, the United States and the European Union have traded places. During the previous three decades, health, safety, and environmental regulations were typically more stringent, innovative and comprehensive in the US than in Europe. But many of the risk regulations more recently adopted by the EU such as for food safety, biodiversity, chemical health and safety, and global climate change are more risk averse than those adopted by the United States. The EU has also replaced the US as the major initiator and supporter of new global environmental agreements.
These policy shifts are largely due to three factors: stronger public demands for additional government regulation in Europe than in the US, increased partisan polarization in the US and the political strength of "greener" member states and green pressure groups in the EU, and a shift in the criteria used to manage risks. While American policymakers have placed increase reliance on risk assessments, European policymakers have become able and willing to enact regulations on precautionary grounds.
David Vogel is the Solomon P Lee Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley and author of The Politics of Precaution.