International institutions are proliferating over a wide range of issue areas, creating what have recently been described as regime complexes. More than complicated arrangements, regime complexes are structures: they are more than the sum of their parts, i.e. individual international regimes. While the concept of international regimes holds strong promise in this direction, academic research on regime complexes has mostly focused on how agents shape regime complexes but less on how complexes influence agents. This contribution aims at filling this gap by studying the effects that regime complexes might have on global governance, focusing more narrowly on the effects of regime complexes on non-state actors’ (NSAs) strategies with regard to agenda setting for new international regulations. More precisely, we hypothesise that regime complexes create an ‘emulsifying effect’ for pro-active NSAs to push for new regulations whereby the collective effect of non-state actors within and across regime complexes become greater than the sum of their individual effects within individual regimes. We use the examples of food security and biofuels regulations at the international level as a case study with a special focus on the European Union.
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