Politique réglementaire

International Regulatory Co-operation


New report: International Regulatory Co-operation and International Organisations: The Cases of the OECD and the IMO


On 3 November 2014, the OECD launched a new report on international regulatory co-operation: International Regulatory Co-operation and International Organisations. This report initiates work on the rule-making activities of international organisations by the OECD together with other IOs. It reflects initial discussions held among 16 international organisations, OECD countries and stakeholders in a meeting organised in Paris on 16 April 2014. It provides insights into the growing role of international organisations as standard-setters based on a contribution by K.W. Abbott and case studies of the OECD and of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


International regulatory co-operation (IRC) represents an opportunity for governments to foster sustainable and inclusive growth through lower barriers to international flows and better rules for all. In this context, IOs are playing a growing role as standard-setting bodies and in promoting regulatory co-operation.


Evidence shows that IOs contribute regulatory co-operation by:

  • offering platforms for continuous dialogue on regulatory issues;
  • facilitating the comparability of approaches and practices;
  • providing member countries with flexible mechanisms to identify and adapt to new and emerging regulatory areas or issues;
  • contributing to the development of a common regulatory language. 


However, structured evidence on the impact of IOs’ rule-making activities remains scant, both concerning economic and social gains and increased administrative efficiency and capacity. Furthermore, evidence on the active use of regulatory management disciplines in international rule making – such as consultation mechanisms and impact evaluation - is limited. More systematic exchange of information and experience would enable IOs to capitalise on lessons learnt and maximise the potential of existing governance arrangements and instruments.


=> Read the report International Regulatory Co-operation and International Organisations


This report is part of a collection of books on the topic of international regulatory co-operation that aim to provide governments with concrete guidance and examples of regulatory co-operations in different country and sector context. Please see below.


2013 Report: International Regulatory Co-operation: Addressing Global Challenges


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The OECD released International Regulatory Co-operation: Addressing Global Challenges in 2013. This report gathers in a synthetic manner the knowledge and evidence available to date on the various mechanisms available to governments to promote regulatory co-operation, and their benefits and challenges.

With the progressive emergence of an open, dynamic, globalised economy, and the intensification of global challenges pertaining to systemic risks (financial markets), the environment (air or water pollution), human health or safety, governments are increasingly seeking to ensure greater co-ordination on regulatory objectives, processes and enforcement and to eliminate unnecessary regulatory divergences and redundancies.

‌‌This is illustrated by the growing number of OECD Council instruments, which reached 249 in November 2011. Council instruments include both tools that are legally binding on member countries (Decisions) and non-legally binding instruments, such as Recommendations, which nevertheless display great moral force as representing the political will of member countries. These instruments cover a vast array of sectors – environment (for 29%), fiscal affairs, international investment, insurance and private pensions, competition.


Council instruments, 1957-2012

IRC Council instruments

OECD work on international regulatory co-operation


OECD countries have acknowledged the importance of regulatory cooperation by making it Point 12 of the 2012 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance:


“In developing regulatory measures, give consideration to all relevant international standards and frameworks for co-operation in the same field and, where appropriate, their likely effects on parties outside the jurisdiction”.


The OECD Regulatory Policy Division is now working on an IRC toolkit to provide guidance to countries on how to implement successfully Principle 12 of the Recommendation.

The toolkit will comprise two elements: i) A typology of IRC mechanisms with relevant examples; and ii) some guiding principles to evaluate the benefits and costs of different forms of IRC and related empirical evidence.

What is international regulatory


There is no internationally agreed definition of international regulatory cooperation. For the purpose of this work, international regulatory cooperation is defined as any agreement or organisational arrangement, formal or informal, between countries (at the bilateral, regional or multilateral level) to promote some form of cooperation in the design, monitoring, enforcement, or ex-post management of regulation, with a view to support the converging and consistency of rules across borders.


  • IRC is not restricted to its strict equivalence with international legal obligations. It also includes non-binding agreements and voluntary approaches.
  • IRC is not limited to the design phase of the regulatory governance cycle. It may be carried out in the monitoring or enforcement phase; or involve the full regulatory governance cycle.

How is the work conducted?

The OECD has been at the forefront of regulatory policy and governance for the past decade. Through the continuous promotion of co-operation through soft law and peer review mechanisms, the OECD is in a unique position to collect the experiences of regulatory cooperation and support analytical work and guidance to countries on the range of co-operation mechanisms, their opportunities, pitfalls, benefits and costs. Ten case studies on international regulatory co-operation have been prepared in partnership with other OECD Committees and eminent academics and are now available:



For more information, please contact Céline Kauffmann.


Further reading

» International Regulatory Co-operation: The Menu of Approaches, October 2015 

» Regulatory policy and governance


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