Book Review "Environmental Policy in the European Union-Actors, Institutions and Processes"

In International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume3 Number2 (Winter 2002)
Peer-reviewed Article

Book Review "Environmental Policy in the European Union-Actors, Institutions and Processes" edited by Andrew Jordan, Lecturer and Programme Manager of the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment.
Publisher information: London, Sterling (VA): Earthscan Publications Limited, 2002.
ISBN: 185-383-795-4, 354 pp., _18.95 (pbk).
Reviewer: Jan-Dirk Seiler-Hausmann, former Senior Research Fellow at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany.

"Environmental Policy in the European Union" gives readers studying environmental political science a comprehensive overview of the development of a common environmental policy across borders, not only inside the E.U. but also worldwide. Published in 2002, the book covers the history and institutions, the actors and their objectives, and the dominant theories and dynamics of policymaking in the E.U., as well as an assessment of the challenges raised by the transition to sustainability.

Environmental Policy in the European Union opens with an introduction by the editor that summarises the five parts of the book. While Part 1 presents the European community's environmental policy, Part 2 describes the actors who make environmental policy in the E.U. In Part 3 a theoretical overview is given, followed by four examples of environmental policy in the E.U. in Part 4. The book concludes with an outlook in Part 5.

Part 1 begins with an historical overview of the European community's environmental policy from 1957 to 1992, followed by articles that show the development of further institutional frameworks related to environmental policy in the E.U., including the Maastricht Treaty 1993 and the Amsterdam Treaty 1999.

In Part 2 the actors are described: the commission, the parliament, and the "green" member states that dominated E.U. environmental policy in the 1980s. In the beginning-the 1970s-only a small number of actors were involved in making environmental policy. A gradual change in the 1980s went largely unnoticed because environmental policy was considered of little importance, so the "green" member states could use the European legislation to push the E.U. to adopt high standards that gave them an export advantage.

How does European policy work? Part 3 describes the dynamic picture of European policy for which Heitier b coined the revealing term "the policy patchwork." In E.U. environmental standards, she says, the standards of member states are aggregated, transformed, and modified to accommodate powerful veto players.

Part 4 closely traces the development of European policy to elucidate how a single case gives rise to a new environmental directive or regulation. These chapters also make clear where the limits of non-state-controlled policymaking lie, for example, when the commission was unable to overcome deeply rooted state opposition against the E carbon energy tax. The analysis of the vehicle emissions regulation shows the power of industry lobbying across all stages and at all levels of political processes.

What are the future challenges for European environmental policy? Part 5 discusses where problems arise in integrating the political concept of sustainable development into European policy processes. While European environmental policy has to build alliances with actors of other policy domains, what is more important is the implementation of the current European environmental policy at the member state level. E.U. enlargement, finally, will confront European environmental policy with new challenges and implementation problems.

A central concern of the book is to look forward and ask whether the E.U. is prepared or even able to respond to a new political agenda encompassing sustainable development, Eastern enlargement, and environmental policy integration.

Environmental Policy in the European Union as an encompassing study of one complex political context, will be of interest to all those concerned with studying or actually designing national and international environmental politics and policies. The fact that the book offers examples in Part 4 should be of particular interest to policymakers, but also makes the book of high interest to the public, ranging from students to researchers.


International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume3 Number2 (Winter 2002)