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Institutional developments of eu environmental policy


Eu environmental policy


  • No explicit Treaty provision for any environmental policy

  • Nowadays: 350 pieces of legislation covering almost all policy areas (air, water, soil, noise, birds, habitats, biodiversity, urban and hazardous waste, chemicals, biotechnologies, genetically modified organisms, climate change, impact and risk assessment, civil protection, etc.)

Institutional developments of eu environmental policy

  • Alternative forms of regulation: market, self-regulation, eco-audit, eco-labelling, public information, etc.

  • A shared (single) policy with the member states (Europeanization)

  • 6 Environmental Action Programmes (1973-2010)

5 established principles

5 established Principles

  • Precaution (assess, appraise and communicate risks that science is not yet able to evaluate fully)

  • Prevention (instead of reaction)

  • Rectifying pollution at source

  • “Polluter pays”

  • Subsidiarity (EU action only when it can deal with problems more effectively than national or regional governments).

Global dimension

Global Dimension

  • A common Strategy for Sustainable Development

  • The most progressive environmental policy in the world

  • Environmental considerations into other EU external policies (trade, cooperation, etc.)

  • A proactive international player (i.e. Kyoto)

Why a european policy

Why a European policy?

  • Transborder pollution (subsidiarity)

  • Harmonization of environmental standards (internal market)

  • European Commission and EP increasing activism

  • Member states pushers

  • Growing public opinion awareness (Green groups and parties)



The state of the European environment still is a source of growing concern:

  • Implementation (normative) gap

  • Integration gap (EPI),

  • New Challenges (enlargement, Kyoto)

An incremental process

An Incremental Process

  • The original sources of EU regulation: art. 100 (harmonization) and 308 ECT (implicit powers)

  • Decision-making: CM by unanimity, with EP and groups playing a minor role

  • 1967: First directive on “classification, labelling and packaging of dangerous substances”

  • 1972: First directive on “car emission standards caused by diesel engines”

Environmental action plans

Environmental Action Plans

  • 1973-76: polluter pays

    • Reduce and prevent pollution

    • Protect the environment and improve quality of life

    • Support for international initiatives

  • 1977-81: strengthening control on implementation

  • 1982-86: shift from control to prevention; impact assessment, integration of environmental policy considerations in other fields

  • 1987-92: from regulation to economic instruments (taxes, incentives)

  • 1993-2000: Towards sustainable development

  • 2000-2010: The Future is in our Hands…(really?)

External pressures

External pressures

  • 1970 – US Environmental Agency

  • 1972 - UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm)

  • 1973 - 1st EAP (Principle “Polluter Pays”)

  • 1984 - Txernobil nuclear accident

  • 1987 - UN Brundtland Report

  • 1992 – Rio Summit

  • 1992 – Vth Environment Action Programme 1992-2000 (“Towards Sustainability”)

  • 2002 - Johannesburg Summit

  • 2001 – EU SD Strategy

Internal pressures

Internal pressures

  • Environmental disasters

  • Seveso dioxins (1976)-“Seveso directive” on the major-accident hazards of certain industrial activities (1982)

  • Accidental or deliberate Marine Pollution directive

  • Rivers degradation: Rhine pollution Convention (2000)

  • Public opinion awareness: Green movement and parties

Internal market pressures

Internal Market Pressures

  • The Environment as an economic imperative (Free Market competition)

  • Concern of environmental protection as a potential threat for market distortions

  • Competitive disadvantage as a result of “environmental dumping”

  • New decision making rules (SEA)

Transboundary pollution

Transboundary pollution

  • Air (acid rain)

  • Rivers (Rhin)

  • Seas

  • Birds

  • Hazardous Waste moving across borders

The constitutionalization of environmental policy


  • The Single European Act (1986)

  • Maastricht (1992)

  • Amsterdam (1997)

Single european act 1986


  • EP becomes a Common policy

  • Integration of environmental considerations in the other EC policies

  • Improving environmental quality as a legitimate Comunity objective

    • Preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment

    • Protecting human health

    • Ensure a prudent and rational use of nat. Resources

Institutional developments of eu environmental policy


  • QM voting for environmental decisions necessary for the completion of the Internal Market (art.100)

  • After a Community harmonisation measure has been adopted, Member States may:

    • Maintain existing national provisions to protect the environment

    • Introduce new national provisions to protect it

The treaty of maatricht 1992


  • The Rio Summit

  • “Sustainable growth” as one main objective of the EU (art. 2)

  • The Environment is a full common policy

  • Includes the precautionary principle (art. 130)

  • Penalty payment for non-compliance (171)

  • QM voting and co-decision procedure with exceptions (tax policy, territoirial setting, energy)

  • Cohesion Fund for Env. infrastructures

The treaty of amsterdam 1997



  • The importance of SD and environmental protection

  • Subsidiarity (decisions at the lowest level)

  • The international role of the EU

Sd and amsterdam

SD and Amsterdam

  • SD becomes one of the main objectives of the EU as important as eco and social progress (art. 2)

  • It is one of the Union’s main tasks

  • “Environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of Community policies and activities into the other policies” (art. 6)

  • Integration is one one the means of promoting SD

5th environment action program 1992 2000 towards sustainability

5th Environment Action Program (1992-2000)-Towards Sustainability

  • The features of sustainability

    • to maintain the overall quality of life

    • to maintain continuing access to natural resources

    • to avoid lasting environmental damage

    • SD meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

5th eap 2 major principles

5th EAP – 2 major principles

  • The integration of the environmental dimension in all major policy areas as a key factor: environmental protection targets can only be achieved by involving those policy areas causing env deterioration

  • Only by replacing the command-and-control approach with shared responsibility between the various actors (governments, industry and the public) can commitment to agreed measures be achieved

Mid term assessment 1996

Mid-term assessment (1996)

  • 5 priority areas

    1) improving integration of the envir into other policies (CAP, transport, energy, industry and tourism

    2) Use of a wider range of instruments (see next)

    3) Increased implementation and enforcement measures by improved and simplified legislation

    4) Additional action in the field of communication and information

    5) Reinforcing the global Union’s role

A wider range of policy instruments

A wider range of policy instruments

  • Legislation to set env standards

  • Market-based instruments (taxes, incentives, voluntary agreements and instruments, etc.) to encourage the production and use of environmentally friendly products and processes

  • Horizontal support measures (EEA, R+D Programs, public information, education, training

  • Sectoral and spatial planning

  • Environmental Impact Evaluation

  • Financial support (CAP, SF, Cohesion, LIFE, URBAN, etc)

The preparation of the vith eap

The preparation of the VIth EAP

  • In July 1998 (30 months after the proposal was presented by the COM!!) the EP and the CM agreed in concialition a text on the Review of the Vth EAP

  • The Helsinki European Council (Dec. 1999) invited the COM to “prepare a long-term strategy on economic, social and ecological SD” to be submitted to the Gothemburg Council (June 2001)

G thembourg summit june 2001

Göthembourg Summit (June 2001)

COM method: consultation paper to generate discussion and inputs from other EU institutions and civil society

Compehensive strategies of 9 Councils: Environment, Transport, Energy, Agriculture, Industry, Internal Market, Development, ECOFIN, General Affairs

5 key approaches to

5 Key approaches to

  • Ensure the implementation of existing legislation

  • Integrate env concerns into all relevant policy areas

  • Work closely with business and consumers to identify solutions

  • Ensure better and more accessible information for citizens

  • Develop a more env conscious attitude towards land use

Environment 2010 our future our choice the 6th eap 2001 2010

Environment 2010: Our Future, Our ChoiceThe 6th EAP 2001-2010

  • 4 priority areas

    • Climate change

    • Nature and biodiversity

    • Environment and health

    • Natural resources and waste

Institutional developments of eu environmental policy

  • Approaches emphazise the need for more effective implementation and more innovative solutions

  • A wider constituency must be addressed, including business who can gain form EP

  • The Program seeks new and innovative instruments for meeting complex challenges

Institutional developments of eu environmental policy

  • Action must be taken by all at all levels: public authorities, citizens and business

  • Changes in consumption and investment patterns are needed

  • Political leadership is essential (narrow sectoral interests must not prevail)

  • A new integrative approach to policy-making

  • A responsible partner in a globalized world: “leadership through example”

Challenges and implications of sd for public institutions and citizens

Challenges and implications of SD for public institutions and citizens

“Without increasing environmental concerns in the economic sectors and without a stronger participation and commitment of citizens and stakeholders, our development will remain unsustainable” (VI EAP)

A number of implications

A number of implications

  • Changes in behaviour

  • Increasing capabilities

  • Information and communication

  • Social participation

  • Conflict management

  • Integration of policies

  • Vertical-horizontal coordination

  • Instruments

  • Cooperation

Eu environmental policy actors

EU Environmental Policy Actors

  • CM

  • COM

  • EP

  • ECJ

The council of ministers

The Council of Ministers

  • competitive dynamic: negotiation “pushers-laggards”

  • isolation of environmental ministers from domestic pressures,

  • policy-transfer (ideas, practices),

  • package dealing (compromises, i.e. Cohesion Fund)

  • awareness about financial-administrative costs (long deadlines for implementation)

  • unawareness (internal pressures, implementation gap)

  • short terminisn (governments) vs. strategic non elected thinkers (Commission)

  • expectations of poor compliance (member states responsible for enforcement)

The commission

The Commission

  • A creative policy-entrepreneur (only 500 officials)

  • Key player at the stage of agenda setting and policy formulation (expertise and consultation networks)

  • A segmented player: DG environment, less powerful than Industry or Agriculture. Need for coordination with other DGs concerned. Coordination with EP committees (Budget, Regional policy)

  • Implementation control deficit

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