Midway assessment - Regulatory dynamics of sustainability: policy coherence in EU business and financial market law

PhD candidate Hanna Ahlström at the Department of Private Law will  present her PhD project: "Regulatory dynamics of sustainability: policy coherence in EU business and financial market Law".

PhD candidate Hanna Ahlström


Assistant Professor Rakhyun E. Kim, Utrecht University

Leader of the assessment

Professor Trygve Bergsåker, Departement of Private Law


Professor Beate Sjåfjell, Department of Private Law and Senior lecturer David Monciardini, University of Exeter

For outline and draft text, contact Hanna Ahlström.


Regulatory dynamics of sustainability:  policy coherence in EU business and financial market law

With this PhD project, Hanna aims to contribute to a better understanding of how EU regulatory dynamics is creating barriers or possibilities for sustainable business and finance. In order to do so, she investigates policy coherence in EU business and financial market law. In the first chapter, she is using a transdisciplinary research approach where she explores methodological opportunities and challenges when it comes to integrating social–ecological systems (SES) thinking into corporate sustainability practices through the organization of a workshop that took place in January 2018. This was an exercise of mutual learning and exchange of knowledge where academics and practitioners met and co-produced propositions on how to further the process of integrating SES thinking into corporate practice. The second chapter draws attention to the limited progress that has been made in integrating the sustainable development principle in EU business and financial market law. These two field of law have furthermore rarely been systemically analysed in relation to sustainability. Hanna therefore identifies particular policy areas denoted as ‘policy hotspots’ for change [sustainability progress]. With these ‘policy hotspots’ she means certain policy areas where particular efforts and resources are mobilized by key actors involved in the area of EU business and financial market policy, such as the EU institutions and the member states. She furthermore identifies the ‘governance architecture’, i.e. all relevant legal instruments of EU business and financial market law. Within this governance architecture, she reveals certain structures of regulatory interconnectivity using a mix-method approach where she combines a social network analysis (SNA) method with semi-structured interviews. The third chapter seeks to contribute to the literature on polycentric regulation and multi-level governance analysis in the context of EU policy-making. This is done through a focus on the role of institutional-actor relations in shaping business and financial market law more or less sustainable. Hanna uses a mix-method approach, building on the analysis from the second chapter. She applies an SNA methodology combined with qualitative analysis in order to contribute to a better understanding of how different actors exert regulatory influence on the topic of sustainable development, across European and international scales. The results from the SNA are combined with a process-tracing method in order to trace possible legal diffusion processes. The fourth and last chapter will assess the business and financial market regimes in relation to the European Commission’s workings on ‘policy coherence for development’. Hanna will analyse SES dimensions of current policies in order to identifying barriers and possibilities for enabling coherent and sustainable EU business and financial market law. The analysis will build on the results from the first chapters and will use qualitative analyses capturing current state of play, ‘policy hotspots’ that are potential target for intervention, and necessary goals over time. The last chapter will hence offer recommendations on what should be done in order to improve policy coherence for sustainable development in EU business and financial market law.

Published May 3, 2018 12:27 PM - Last modified May 16, 2018 11:59 AM