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Environmental politics in the European Union

Environmental politics in the European Union: Policy-making, implementation and patterns of multi-level governance

Christoph Knill
Liefferink Duncan
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Environmental politics in the European Union
    Book Description:

    This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the development, making and implementation of European Union environmental politics and identifies the central areas and instruments of EU environmental policy. It analyses the factors influencing not only the formulation but also the implementation of environmental measures in the complex multi-level setting of the EU. On this basis, it takes a critical look at the EU’s effectiveness and problem-solving capacity in the environmental field. Designed as a textbook at undergraduate and graduate level, the book employs a clear and insightful analytical perspective based on the theoretical state-of-the-art of EU policy studies. Thus, it provides an overview of the major theoretical approaches available in the field. At the same time, the discussion is illustrated by a broad range of empirical findings with regard to the formulation and implementation of EU environmental policy. This study is an ideal companion for anyone seeking a concise and accessible introduction into EU environmental politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-220-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of boxes, tables and figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Christoph Knill and Liefferink Duncan
  5. List of abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction and historical overview: the establishment of environmental policy as a European policy domain
    (pp. 1-26)

    The environmental policy of the EU¹ has developed in remarkable fashion in the past three decades. Since the beginning of the 1970s we have witnessed a steady expansion of environmental policy activities at the European level. An increasingly dense network of European legislation has emerged, which has now been extended to all areas of environmental protection. This holds not only for air pollution control, water protection and waste policy, but also for nature conservation and the control of chemicals, biotechnology and other industrial risks. Environmental policy has thus become a core area of European politics. A development which was still...

  7. 2 Patterns of regulation
    (pp. 27-56)

    Following the historical overview of the first chapter, this chapter employs a more analytical perspective on the main characteristics of the EU environmental policy field. The discussion is organized by a decreasing level of abstraction, i.e. starting with general principles, via regulatory approaches and instruments, going down to an overview of concrete policies and measures. First, the main principles of making environmental policy in the multi-level system of the EU are presented, such as the precautionary principle, the principle of subsidiarity, and the integration of environmental considerations into other policy fields. Second, the main regulatory approaches or ‘paradigms’ underlying the...

  8. 3 Central institutions and actors
    (pp. 57-76)

    The previous overview of the historical development, policy orientations and governance patterns of EU environmental policy can only be understood and explained when we take a closer look at how this policy is actually made. What are the general institutional and procedural conditions for the design of European environmental policies? Who are the important actors? What are their respective responsibilities? What general interest constellations and patterns of interaction can be observed?

    Our starting point for answering these questions is an overview of the main actors and institutions active in the formulation of the EU environmental policy. Here we initially focus...

  9. 4 Political processes and decision-making procedures
    (pp. 77-101)

    For a full understanding of the factors and conditions shaping EU environmental policy, the analysis of central actors and institutions in the previous chapter constitutes an important, but not a sufficient starting point. In this chapter, we will complement this picture by focusing upon the characteristic processes and decision-making procedures in the development and design of EU environmental policies. Of particular significance here are not only formal decision-making rules and procedures, but also informal patterns of interaction and the relationships between the involved actors and institutions.

    These patterns are marked by tensions between Community and national interests, which are typical...

  10. 5 Typical interest constellations and patterns of interaction
    (pp. 102-120)

    If we look back on the previous chapters, the question arises whether the concrete design of EU environmental policy can truly only be understood as the result of highly contingent processes or whether certain analytical interrelations exist after all, on the basis of which this complex overall picture can at least be partially deciphered. As the following section will show, we can indeed identify general interest constellations and interaction patterns in EU environmental policy, which enable us to explain different policy processes and outcomes.

    In this respect, two different forms of regulatory competition between the member states are of particular...

  11. 6 Making EU environmental policy in practice: three case studies
    (pp. 121-144)

    Until now we have examined the actors, interest constellations and processes that are crucial for the design of European environmental policies. We have done so from an analytical perspective. Our objective has been to assess general interrelationships and political patterns as well as their ramifications for the shape and quality of environmental policies. It has become clear that processes and outcomes of environmental policy-making in Brussels vary greatly with the respective interests and strategic capacities for action of both national and supranational actors and institutions. EU environmental policy does not follow a uniform scheme. It rather evolves differently depending on...

  12. 7 Implementation effectiveness of EU environmental policy
    (pp. 145-161)

    What happens to an environmental law or programme after its official passing by the EU? How do the formal transposition and the practical application of legal acts take shape at the national level? Which problems and deviations from the European objectives can be observed? At first glance, it could be assumed that questions like these are relatively trivial. Why should there subsequently emerge problems in the execution of an apparently well-devised measure that was accepted by the Council of Ministers? The fact that political reality presents itself more complex, not exclusively becomes apparent in the far-reaching implementation deficits that are...

  13. 8 Strategies to improve implementation effectiveness: ‘new’ environmental policy instruments as a panacea?
    (pp. 162-178)

    The increased politicization of implementation problems in EU environmental policy was not without practical consequences. From the early 1990s, we can observe a certain reorientation in dominant governance patterns. With a shift from interventionist instruments to so-called ‘new’ instruments emphasizing public participation, transparency, economic incentives and self-regulation, the EU Commission especially hoped to improve domestic compliance with EU environmental policies.

    However, a closer look at the effects of these changes reveals that the expectations of the Commission were not fulfilled. Several studies indicate that there is not necessarily a causal linkage between the implementation performance and the choice of policy...

  14. 9 The implementation of EU environmental policy in the UK, France, Germany and Spain
    (pp. 179-195)

    As shown in the previous chapter, simple recipes, such as the switch to context-oriented patterns of governance, are hardly sufficient to improve the implementation effectiveness of EU environmental policy. Rather than European governance approaches or domestic factors, the institutional compatibility of EU policy requirements with national administrative traditions was identified as an important factor accounting for the varying implementation record across policies and member states.

    It is the objective of this chapter to illustrate this argument empirically. To do so, we draw on recent cross-national studies on the implementation of EU environmental policy (Knill 2001; Knill and Lenschow 2001). Similar...

  15. 10 Taking stock: the environmental problem-solving capacity of the EU
    (pp. 196-213)

    Since its beginnings in the 1970s, EU environmental policy has developed and expanded rapidly. This is illustrated not only by the sheer volume of EU environmental policy measures, but also by the high degree of differentiation of those measures and the governance patterns underlying them. The preceding chapters have given ample testimony of this development. Despite these achievements, however, the problems and deficits of European environmental policy are frequently the subject of political and scientific debate. How should EU environmental policy best be assessed and evaluated? How capable is the EU of actually solving environmental protection problems?

    Before answering these...

  16. 11 Conclusions
    (pp. 214-222)

    If anything, this book has made clear that the making and implementation of EU environmental policy is a dynamic and complex process. Nevertheless, some general patterns can be discerned. First, a steady broadening of the issues covered by EU environmental policy can be observed, along with a continuous adjustment of the policy instruments used and the underlying regulatory approaches. A second feature is the close link between environmental policy on the one hand, and the regulation of the Internal Market and the integration process at large on the other. Despite the gradual recognition of environmental protection as an ‘independent’ policy...

  17. References
    (pp. 223-242)
  18. Index
    (pp. 243-250)