The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) has in the course of the last couple of decades evolved to become a central arena of global economic policymaking. This committee’s so far most extensive policy project is known as Basel II, and refers to the updated version of the 1988 Basle Capital Accord. The rationale of the update was to improve the capital adequacy regime governing the world’s banking industries. After a long drawn policy process, starting in 1998, it was finalised in July 2006.
This thesis seeks to explain the policy process behind Basel II, as seen through three theoretical lenses. The first is the theory of epistemic communities, as developed by among others Haas (1992). The second is based on the societal school of international relations, and is called Varieties of Capitalism and International Political Economy (VoC/IPE). The third is called transnational governance, and draws on concepts taken from the multilevel governance literature.
The thesis concludes that Basel II to a large extent could be explained as a result of activity from an epistemic community. This contrasts Kapstein’s (1992) findings from the policy process behind the 1988 Basle Capital Accord, where no such element could be found. The VoC/IPE perspective, which is close to Kapstein’s explanation of the 1988 process, does however still have explanatory value, albeit for less central parts of the new accord than those accounted for by the epistemic community perspective. Furthermore, to the merit of the transnational governance perspective, the Basel II policy process has shown to involve a multitude of actors at a variety of levels. Of particular importance were experts adhering to an epistemic community, government representatives pursuing narrow national interests, private actors from the financial industry, as well as the EU.