This book develops and applies an inventive theoretical approach to the comparative study of the neglected aspect of the real (or "de facto") independence of regulatory agencies. The book begins with an examination of the organisational and institutional factors shaping the de facto independence of regulatory agencies in Western Europe. There follows an analysis of the role of independent regulatory agencies in the policy-making process, using de facto independence as an explanatory variable. The final section is devoted to the relationship between regulatory agencies and the news media. In the conclusive discussion, the author also tackles a set of normative questions, which relates to the virtues and perils of independence.