Nudging in Europe: What can EU Law learn from Behavioural Sciences?

Call for Papers
Nudging in Europe: What can EU Law learn from Behavioural Sciences?

OVERVIEW: A growing body of evidence suggests that insights from the behavioural sciences – from psychology and behavioural economics to neurosciences – can help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals. By showing that individuals deviate in predictable ways from neoclassical assumptions of rationality, behavioural sciences may help policy makers and administrative agencies to design policies that accommodate how people really behave, not how they are assumed to behave.

Under both UK Prime Minister Cameron and US President Obama, policy makers have recently been encouraged to draw on behavioural and social sciences insights in the design or implementation of new regulations. In the UK, through a process of rapid, iterative experimentation (“Test, Learn, Adapt”), the Behavioural Insights Team has successfully identified and tested interventions that will further advance priorities of the British government, while saving the government at least £1 billion within the next five years. The US federal government has also been experimenting with the idea and is currently creating a new team that will help build federal capacity to experiment with these approaches and scale behavioural interventions that have been rigorously evaluated, using, where possible, randomized controlled trials.

Although the results of the first nudging experiments are mixed, there seems to be an emerging consensus around the idea that regulation cannot work effectively or efficiently if regulators do not consider how targeted people respond.

However, besides a few isolated initiatives displaying some behavioural consideration (e.g. revision of the tobacco products directive, consumer information regulation, behavioural advertising, behavioural remedies in competition law), the European Union has not yet shown a commitment to integrate behavioural research into its policy-making. Given the potential of this regulatory approach in attaining effective, low-cost and choice-preserving policies, such a stance seems inadequate when measured against the EU’s commitment to smart regulation in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Against this backdrop, our workshop aims to: (i) map the actual and possible uses of behavioural insights in EU policy making; (ii) explore what roles – if any – behavioural sciences may play in EU law; and (iii) discuss how they could be better integrated into EU law-making.

TOPICS: Contributions may relate to any field of EU law. Contributions should seek to address the following points (or some of them) in relation to a particular area of EU law:
– Is there a place for behavioural insights in your chosen field of study? If so, what are, in your view, the most important reasons why behavioural sciences are relevant to the law?
– In the law as it stands, are there openings for developing behavioural arguments either at the policy or litigation stage?
– In your view, do behavioural sciences address questions about human behaviour that would be relevant to lawyers?
– What are the expected benefits and the expected challenges of integrating behavioural insights into the law?
– In your area of study, are the teachings of behavioural sciences more relevant at the stage of rule making or at the stage of individual decision (including adjudication)?

Papers addressing the implications of behavioural sciences for contract law, competition law and risk regulation will be particularly welcome, but all areas of EU law are of interest. Where relevant, a comparative dimension (comparison between how behavioural insights are used in various jurisdictions) will also be welcome in full papers.

– Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of Law at HEC Paris and editor of the European Journal of Risk Regulation
– Anne-Lise Sibony, Professor of Law and co-Director of the Institute of European Law, Liege University School of Law

EVENT: The event will consist of a one-day workshop to be held at the University of Liege Law School (1-hour drive/train from Brussels) on December 13, 2013. Invited speakers will be reimbursed for reasonable travel and accommodation expenses. The workshop is supported by the University of Liege and the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law & Risk Regulation at HEC Paris.

OUTCOMES: It is anticipated that the papers presented at the workshop will form the basis for an edited collection.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Please submit an abstract of between 300 and 500 words, including a title, to Alberto Alemanno ( and Anne-Lise Sibony ( by October 1, 2013.