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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the tension between the expectation of ‘public participation’ in areas of high technological complexity, and sometimes limited engagement with the results of participatory exercises by decision makers. The chapter examines in particular the ways in which legal contexts (eg narrowly drawn legislative objectives, judicial preference for certain types of evidence, free trade rules) can tend to incentivize a decision explained on the basis of ‘facts’, as determined by expert processes. Broader public contributions may find it difficult to be heard in this context. This chapter argues that an expansion to the legal framework, so that a broader range of public comments can be heard by decision makers, is both desirable and, importantly, plausible—albeit extraordinarily difficult.

Keywords: public participation, expertise, REACH, EIA, GMOs, EU technology governance

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