Creating a Culture of Independence

Practical Guidance against Undue Influence

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Regulators are the “referees” of markets that provide essential services to citizens; they guarantee that all actors respect the rules and work to achieve the best outcomes. This means that their behaviour must be objective, impartial, consistent and free from conflict of interest – in other words, independent. Yet, regulators need to engage with a number of stakeholders, who may also seek to apply pressure and exert undue influence on regulatory outcomes. The independence of regulators is thus constantly under stress. This report provides practical advice on how to address stress points and protect economic regulators from undue influence, drawing on the experience of over 80 regulators that participate in the OECD Network of Economic Regulators (NER). It presents a practical checklist to support behavioural and organisational change, and helps other stakeholders better understand and appreciate the role of regulators and how to interact with them.

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Executive summary

As “market referees”, regulators must take on board the views of legitimate interests as well as protect themselves from inappropriate or undue influence in order to correctly conduct their activities and achieve the right policy outcomes. Independence is a means to this end. Independence from both the government and regulated industry ensures that regulators’ decisions and activities are objective, impartial, consistent and expert. The capacity of regulators to act independently helps implement and refine the policy frameworks developed by government institutions that seek to improve the functioning of markets, sectors and environments through regulation.

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