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  1. EU Environmental Policy and Law
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An additional motivation driving the EU's emerging environmental policy was the increasing international politicisation of environmental problems and the growing realisation from the beginning of the s that environmental pollution did not stop at national borders, but had to be addressed by cross-border measures. However, the Treaty text was interpreted dynamically, enabling environmental policy to be regarded as an essential goal of the Community, even though it was not explicitly mentioned.

EU Environmental Policy and Law

It was not until the middle of the s and the signing of the Single European Act in that economic and ecological objectives were put on a more equal footing within the Community. EU environmental policy is shaped by a variety of actors including all of the main EU institutions as well as lobby groups which makeup the wider Brussels policy making community. Member states shape EU environmental policy by working within the Council of Ministers.

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The number of Environment Council meetings has increased significantly over time. Heads of state meet in something different — the European Council — which until recently had very little to do with environmental policy. However, more recently the European Council has played an important role in EU climate change policy in particular. The European Commission not only has an exclusive right to propose new environmental policy, but it also has a responsibility to ensure the implementation of environmental rules.


Therefore, since its creation in the s the European Commission has been at the heart of the European Union. However, it did not set up a unit dedicated to environmental issues until the s and a full Directorate General for the environment until However, the Commission still has to depend on member states to implement its policies. Traditionally, the European Parliament gained a reputation as a champion of environmental interests within the EU where it provided an access point for those excluded from decision making and a voice for green political parties.

More recently the Parliament has benefited from treaty changes that have made it a co-legislator with the Council of Ministers. However, the empowerment of the Parliament seems to have reduced its green credentials as it now appears less willing to adopt green amendments. Over the last 40 years the EU has attracted the interest of a vast number of lobby groups including environmental NGOs. As early as , environmental groups from all the member states established a central representation in Brussels, founding the European Environmental Bureau. Other environmental NGOs only set up shop in Brussels from the late s onwards.

Policy making in the EU can be extremely complex. It has been suggested that the policy making process is too densely populated with veto players i. The focus of EU environmental policy making has also changed in recent years concentrating more on updating existing policies than on building-up the EU's role in environmental policy.

Since the s, other new issues have been taken up but in addition an increasing proportion of the environmental agenda has been taken up by debates on the revision of existing legislation. As a result, the proportion of EU environmental legislation that amends previous laws has steadily increased over time.

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In its policy making processes the EU has made a sizeable effort to undertake a particular type of policy coordination, namely the integration of environmental considerations into the operation of all policy sectors. A significant causal factor here has been the EU's fragmented institutional and political structure, which on the one hand has facilitated the adoption of visionary policy objectives, but has also undermined their implementation. The success of EU policies — and with them the whole integration project — are often judged by the impacts they have on the ground.

If, however, the acquis the body of EU law is not fully implemented, EU policies risk becoming paper exercises with little tangible effect on environmental quality but serious distorting impacts on the Single Market. Indeed, for a long time, a number of factors kept the whole issue of poor implementation down or off the political agenda, but today it is much more politicised, pushed along by the campaigning activities of NGOs and pro-integration actors such as the European Parliament. A whole host of solutions to the EU's implementation problems have been offered, some of which could, if deployed, even compound the problem.

But in many respects, the causes of poor or at least imperfect implementation reside in the very structure of the EU. Consequently, there are likely to be no panaceas. To develop new environmental policies, it is important first to evaluate those that have already been adopted. However, this intuitively simple idea is difficult to apply in practice, no more so than in the EU where the complex system of multi-level governance adds considerably to the practical difficulty of evaluating policies.

In recent years the demand for evaluations of EU policies and programmes has increased as the importance of evaluation has become more widely recognised. Many actors have become involved in commissioning, producing and using evaluations including the European Environment Agency , but the role of evaluation is often still quite weak. Synergic to the environmental policy in Europe is the European environmental research and innovation policy.

It aims at defining and implementing a transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a whole so to achieve a truly sustainable development.

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Europe is particularly active in this field and the European environmental research and innovation policy aims at promoting more and better research and innovation for building a resource-efficient and climate-resilient society and economy in sync with the natural environment. Research and innovation in Europe are financially supported by the programme Horizon , which is also open to participation worldwide. Therefore, if one wants to understand the processes and outcomes of international environmental negotiations, one needs to be familiar with the role that the EU plays there. Also, developments at the international level have an influence on the EU, its policies and the extent to which it can be a global actor.

Hence, European and international environmental politics and policies are constantly interacting and thus mutually constitutive. The EU is a party to all major Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements covering a whole variety of environmental issues. The EU is often observed as a leader in global environmental politics, but its leadership role can nowadays also be questioned, especially in the area of climate change.

The EU's international climate change policy consists of three building blocks environmental integrity, multilateralism, a legally binding instrument , which are under pressure in the context of the current climate change negotiations. As in other areas of external action, the EU's external environmental policy is often characterised by a mismatch between its ambitions and its ability to deliver in practice.

When the EEC was established, environmental protection, let alone the broader concept of sustainable development, was not perceived as an important policy issue. The concept of sustainable development contains environmental, social and economic dimensions; finding practical ways to balance the three is widely regarded as a key challenge. The EU policies in the field of sustainable development evolved as a result of the interaction between internal political drivers and the EU's response to a number of key UN conferences.

This not only addressed the environmental concerns of the industrialised countries in the North, but also, the development concerns of countries in the South. Sustainable development was only mentioned in European Council Conclusions for the first time in Subsequently, the EU's commitment to sustainable development was formalised as one of the EU's fundamental goals. In particular, the Strategy has been heavily affected by its ambiguous relationship to the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, which has received far higher political priority.

European environmental policy | EHNE

Angelo Richiello is a business advisor on strategy and development. Over last twenty years he has been involved in various business projects in developed and developing countries. He lives in Switzerland. Tra Trump e Kim uno stallo ma non ancora un fiasco. Catastrofismo e scienza: un approccio equilibrato. Verde ma non troppo: Realpolitik del clima. The 22nd Knesset-to-come: a new political configuration in Israel. Likes Followers Subscribers Followers.

A Brief look into EU Environmental Policy

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