Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 453–464 | Cite as

The Behavioural Law and Economics of the Precautionary Principle in the EU and Its Impact on Internal Market Regulation

Original Paper


The precautionary principle contributes to “the social” of internal market regulation as it counterbalances the loss aversion and availability bias of regulators who may too hastily endorse measures based to further the fundamental freedoms instead of fundamental rights and environmental protection. The precautionary principle also enhances the regulatory power of the European Union. By way of regulating via the precautionary principle, EU institutions pretend to have answers to citizen’s fears. These fears result from a crisis of causality, as society is trying to find a meaning to what sometimes appears as a series of patternless events. The EU legal order takes advantage of these effects. It creates an image of being able to cope with these fears, although it is rather questionable whether they really can live up to these expectations.


Precautionary principle Internal market regulation Behavioural law and economics EU law 



This paper has been benefitted from the comments of the two anonymous reviewers as well as from the comments received in the framework of the EDLE seminar at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam Law School and the presentation at Wageningen University. Particularly, Alexandre Biard, Michael Faure, Arnout Fischer, Louis Visscher, Bernd van der Meulen, and Maria Pia Sacco and the two anonymous reviewers deserve gratitude.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law and Governance Group, Social Sciences GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands
  2. 2.Rotterdam Institute of Law and EconomicErasmus University of RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands

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