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Transatlantic Dialogue on Precaution, Risk and Regulation

Transatlantic Dialogue on Precaution, Risk and Regulation

Differences in the approaches to risk assessment and management, and the development of regulation under conditions of uncertainty are important sources of friction between the US and the EU. A transatlantic dialogue entitled "The Reality of Precaution", managed by the Duke University Center for Environmental Solutions and the Group of Policy Advisors of the European Commission addresses the application of the precautionary principle in practice. With sponsorship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), R. Andreas Kraemer participates in and contributes to the dialogue.

This series examines the "precautionary principle" and its reflection in actual regulatory programs in the US and Europe. It goes beyond the current rhetoric of greater European precaution (e.g. regarding biotechnology, beef hormones and climate change) to study a wider array of concrete examples, including instances of greater American precaution (e.g. nuclear power, leaded gasoline, smoking, and mad cow disease in blood). It thereby fosters mutual transatlantic understanding of the complexity of actual regulations across risks. The project analyzes why different societies choose different risks to worry most about, and provides recommendations for when precaution makes sense in light of both target and countervailing risks.

Through a series of four transatlantic dialogues, the project compares the degree of precaution reflected in regulation of selected risks in selected countries, focusing on the United States (US) and Europe (including both the European Union and its Member States). The series thereby develops a better understanding of:

  • the factors that influence the emergence and relative stringency of precautionary regulation,
  • the impacts of precautionary regulation in practice, and
  • when and to what degree precautionary regulation is desirable.

This series helps move the discussion of precaution from fractious debate to functional dialogue by bringing a new depth and breadth of analysis to a mutually edifying conversation.

January 2002 to December 2004
Project ID
precaution, precautionary principle, transatlantic dialogue, risk, regulation, Ecologic Transatlantic Program, USA, EU