Meeting the EU Environmental Challenge

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Dec 10, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)





Meeting the EU Environmental Challenge

Dr. Anthony R. Zito

University of Newcastle

Contact address:


School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

40/42 Great North Road

University of Newcastle

e upon Tyne


Great Britain

Tel.: 0191

FAX.: 0191


Paper presented for the
Conference of Governance and Civil Society, University of
Trento, 11
12 December,

I. Introduction

ean Union environmental policy

is held to be one of the major success stories of
the integration process, a prime example of how the responsibilities for protecting the
environment against complex pollutions problems has gradually been shared between
the m
ember states. Until 2000, environmental policy was one of the fastest growing
areas and now comprises well over 500 measures in its acquis

(Jordan 1999

Nevertheless, even the sheer success of this policy area raises issues of how effective
al governance
, in all of its dimensions,

is in the EU

, as well as
how much of the power and legitimacy over this area has been ceded by the member

This paper examines the wide range of governance challenges that the EU
environmental pol
icy arena faces in its efforts to protect the environment.
In this
paper we use a definitional shorthand of governance, where is the capacity of
authorities with public responsibilities to steer their economy and society in a goal
oriented way that differs

from what the spontaneous cooperation of actors in the
markets and society would achieve on their own (Peters, 1997; Kooiman, 1993). The
paper utilizes a ‘thick’ institutional and ideational analysis to examine how the
pressures erode the ability of the
various actors to govern the system in an effective
and legit
mate manner. Part of the aspect of actors steering society towards particular
aims requires the involvement of members of the civil society to provide substantial
and symbolic contributions to
the environmental effort.

Thus, the enhancement of
the role of civil society (as an element of the EU environmental governance) forms
the dependent variable.

The paper then examines the layers of rules, networks,
processes and tools that EU actors have
implemented to meet these challenges.
is already a substantial literature that explicitly examines environmental governance at
the EU and member state level (note particularly Weale
et al.
, 2000; Lenschow, 1999;
Butt Phillip, 1998), but this literatu


has not sought to focus on the
interlocking challenges
and how they have affected governance and civil society in

This paper argues that the institutional and ideational complexity of the
European Union leads to both regulatory a
nd network patchworks that are new, and
provide both opportunities and constraints for the wide array of involved actors.

The paper adheres to the following organization. The next section outlines some of
the key conceptual distinctions and applies them
to the EU. The Third section
presents a list of the governance challenges that face the EU. The Fourth section
looks in more detail at the relationship of civil society to the political process. Due to
space constraints, the paper concentrates on the

ngo perspective but

the importance of other civil society actors.

The Fifth section

the efforts the EU has made to overcome the governance challenges

by outline the
wide range of means.

II. Conceptual distinctions.


The conceptual distinctions made by the ‘new’ governance literature raises many
important points about the rise of complexity in societal organizations, the increased
importance of technology, the ambiguity of cause and effect relations and more
verse relationsh
s within the political process;

all of these points are incorporated
into the understanding of the governance challenge raised in the next section (Kickert,
1993; Kooiman, 1993).

Certainly these pressures are affecting the ability of the
to govern its society according to traditional methods (Rhodes

1996). Nevertheless,
we must be wary of some of the implications of
the new governance approach and
accordingly this paper adheres more closely to the second notion of governance
ed by Pierre and Peters
as interpreted by
the Trento conference organizers


Sala and Ruzza, 2000). T
his approach to governance recognizes the blurring
of the boundaries of what is political but realizes that power struggles occur at all
levels of th
e political arena.
In the EU context, t
his political struggle is occurring in a
number of new areas

beyond the state, but also beyond the supranational process in

e.g. the role of individual regions within a state and interest group Brussels

Civil Society

There exists a rich literature on social movements and the importance of civil society
particularly at the national level. In the specific area of
democratic transition and
consolidation Linz and Stepan (1996) provide
a useful
inition of civil society: “that
arena of the polity where self
organizing groups, movements and individuals,
relatively autonomous from the state, attempt to articulate values, create associations
and solidarities, and advance their interests.”


this is a useful starting point for understanding the dependent variable, the
nature of environmental problems and policy requires us to push the civil society
concept beyond its traditional domestic boundaries

(Keck and Sikkink, 1993; Wapner,

of global civil society in world politics may encompass both
domestic and

participation by individuals and organizations.

actions to influence government policy and citizens’ perception of civil
society itself may co
me from domestic and international sources.
one must
look at how institutional structures and policy ideas at all levels of the environmental
area (i.e. subnational, national, EU and international) shape each other and constrain
the nature of govern
ance and civil society.

Theoretical explanations

This paper

combines a ‘thicker’ institutional approach with a focus on ideational

an institutional/ideational
. By ‘thick’ we mean that the analysis must move
away from the pure formal notion of i
nstitutions as rules that rational actors play by as
suggested by Riker and others, and move towards a more sociological understanding
to the independent impact that institutions and the values they have may impose on
environmental actors.

While rules are
important and define actor choices, over the
long term implicit norms within the institutions also define the identity and views of
reality for the actors that operate them. Over time actors are less able to set goals
independent of the institutional cont
ext (Aspinwall and Schneider, 2000).

Accordingly, this paper borrows from the more formal and rationalistic perspectives
in terms of thinking about ‘v
eto points
’ and the opportunity structures that actors can
utilize (Immergut, 1992; K
, 1986), but
emphasizes the institutional ability to
shape decision
making paths and identity as argued in more sociological analyses.

Embedded in the EU policy process
are also ideas and ways of viewing the world
(Goldstein, 1993). Ideas provide the means for making

choices and establishing the
rules of the game and serve as the focus for new policies and political coalitions
(Goldstein and Keohane, 1993). Ideas will need particular actors to push and promote
them in the policy process.

To bring these


and ideational

elements together, Hall (1993) provides a
useful outline of how the components of a

policy area, differentiating b

structure, style and content found in the policy area.

For Hall, policy structure covers
the administrative structu
res of government and the procedural arrangements that
develop and implement policy. Policy style refers to the normal way that EU actors go
about making environmental policy decisions are made and how they involve other
interested actors from society; thi
s value encompasses both rules and attitudes of
institutional actors. Policy content involves three aspects. The first are the goals of
the policy which will be centered around a framework of ideas that explain their
position and the kinds of means to imp
lement the goal. The second is the instruments
or means of achieving the policy aims and the final aspect is the precise calibration of
the policy instruments. These concepts should be treated as heuristic notions that may
overlap, but they help to provi
de a systematic way of studying how civil society is
engaged in the EU process, and what solutions the EU is developing to handle the
larger governance question.

III. The Governance Challenges

As with Hall’s notions of policy structure, style and content,

the governance
challenges need to be understood here as heuristic concepts that encompass a number
of different factors that impinge on effective EU environmental governance. It is
expected that these factors will interact to create even stronger challen

for the
players in the EU aren

There are a number of other governance tensions that might
be considered but the four below reflect the particular situation of a complex EU
policy system being influenced by this international policy problem. The au
thor has
considered others, such as subsidiarity, but the political and governance tension
inherent in this question seems wider and more commonplace than just the EU;
furthermore recent important empirical research suggests that the subsidiarity debate
s had only a marginal impact in the way EU environmental policy has been shaped
in the last decade (Flynn, 2003)

a. The

Epistemic Effect

Over the last decade, environmental scholarship has closely examined the concept of
"epistemic communities." Peter
Haas (1992) defines these communities as networks
of professionals with recognized expertise in a particular domain and an authoritative
claim to policy relevant knowledge in that area. In circumstances of policy
uncertainty (due to lack of knowledge or a
mbiguous linkages to other issue priorities),
the arguments of the epistemic community can persuade decision
makers to
substantially alter their policies
. The real impact of epistemic communities is
arguably quite limited in the EU context; even where the
y exist their influence may be
limited to very particular circumstances (Zito, 2001).

Furthermore, knowledge of
policy problems and solutions does not necessarily require a sophisticated
understanding of cause and effect to be useful to policy makers; a
practical solution
that incorporates past environmental policy experience can prove equally important.

Accordingly, I use "epistemic" to label a broader set of knowledge than P. Haas' 1992

epistemic knowledge or not, EU and memb
er state
face a number of complex issues that must be decided under conditions of
uncertainty, with global warming perhaps being at the head of the list. However, the
knowledge to begin to study and answer these questions is not distributed ev
enly or
widely within the EU. In fact there are

too ma
ny complex environmental issues,
which all require enormous technical resources to study the problem and develop a
for a regional organization and its membership to manage in a completely
pendent fashion.
This will lead to the involvement of international organizations
which may have specialized in particular areas.
Young (1994

notes a tendency of
IOs developing new environmental regimes to "piggy back" on the expertise and pre
efforts of other international organizations. There is an explicit desire to
avoid duplication of effort. It is natural in this context for the EU member states and
Commission, especially given the small resource base of its Di
rectorate for the
) to embrace the IO policy ideas and experiences.
At the same time, it is
important to realize that may environmental policy areas are more routine but
nevertheless require a tremendous amount of information in order to effectively
implement and monitor

European policy. The sheer number of regulations in place
has led the Commission to emphasize the greater need to pursue implementation
issues in its strategic documents such as the Fifth Action Programme, financial
schemes, and other instruments to achi
eve better implementation (Jordan, 1999b).

The situation represents both a challenge and an opportunity for different
environmental actors
Care must be taken to emphasize that knowledge has an
intensely political and conflictual role; assuming that a ra
tional, scientific decision
making calculus will determine the issue is problematic. Distributive gains and losses
for domestic interests occur when this knowledge triggers a particular regulatory
Those actors with the ability to contribute or a
t least provide information
gain a greater voice, but other actors may find it more difficult to wield influence. As
an illustration, the Commission must carefully listen to all possible technical advice
and information concerning an issue when it is deve
loping a policy proposal.

As will
be discussed later, typical civil society actors like ngos and consumer groups only in
very rare cases can speak to these concerns. This is only more likely if the technical
arena for the debate involves international in
stitutions which have their own issues of
problematic legitimacy.

Both the Commission as well as those representatives of
other interests face a major resource issue of trying to attain the knowledge required
to steer EU policy towards particular goals.

b. The

Schaatschneider Effect

and Forum Shopping

The Semi
Sovereign People
, Schaatschneider (1960) noted
how key

decisions can rest on whether or not groups seeking to change the status quo succeed
in expanding "the scope of conflict." This t
hesis posits that most policies have an
established group of actors surrounding them seeking to keep the issue defined on
their terms. Actors who wish to end the status quo have to broaden the debate to
include other interests dissatisfied with the status

quo who might tip the political
balance against the established network.
When, particular actors seek to gain support
for their effort to modify the EU agenda, they will go ‘forum shopping’: the arena is
widened to include other actors who favor changing
the status quo

this may involve
going to other institutional bodies (Kellow and Zito, 2002
; Dudley and Richardson,

In examining environmental policy it is very clear the stark complexity of the
institutional process

as well as its continual e
volution (Sbragia, 1993). This
complexity holds true more for issue areas such as the environment which have been
included in the European Community legal framework within the EU. Because the
environmental policy rules of the game largely have been fixed
in the existing treaties,
this means that the supranational institutions (the Commission, Parliament and
European Court of Justice), have a very significant policy role alongside the more
territorially oriented Council of Ministers.

This creates an envi
ronmental process where there are a significant number of
institutions which help define the agenda and can help block particular decisions.
Consequently, certain actors strive to enhance the territorial interests of particular
states while other institu
tions promote other priorities, which may reflect more
supranational or

interests of the institutions or their clientele.
Actors must
promote their policies across this complex chain of institutions and build a supporting
coalition at each of the
se veto points in order to achieve any regulatory output

1996; Zito, 2000)

This enables actors who perhaps have been excluded from the
Council/Commission deliberations to build a base of support and to expand the scope
of conflict in a European P
arliament armed with co
decision power.

, the picture for individual actors is even more complicated than this. Given
the contribution made by international institutions to the addressing of policy issues
environmental actors have the opportunity

of expanding the scope of conflict within
the EU process

by working at the international level
Greenpeace and allied
ngos wielded

disproportionate influence
essentially sabotage an agreed
position by the Commission and Council by u
ndermining the EU stance
during the
Convention negotiations

on waste trade

, 2002
Both international involvement and actual international policies can giv
e European
environmental actors

more leverage for the same issue

area and more general
influence in the EU and in the domestic politics.

At the same time, e
conomic interests
may seek to loosen EU regulations by raising the issue at the IO level.

The complexity of the EU process, which is linked closely to the efforts

provides a different layer of uncertainty (in contrast to
scientific uncertainty about the nature of environmental problems). Actors who have
a greater understanding of the EU process will have an advantage but the Basle was
negotiations is a clear example of the Commission itself being ambushed by its fellow
actors. This makes it more difficult for actors to steer to particular goals.

The Cross
cutting Regime Effec
t and Problems of Integration

Much of the complexity i
nvolved in environmental policy results from its nested
status in other important global issue areas, particularly economic ones.
One must
never forget that the common market was the heart of the historical European
integration process and the roots of EU

environmental policy.
Prior to the Single
European Act (SEA) of 1985, environmental policy had no treaty basis and could not
be considered as a European policy area in its own right. The EC environmental
policies reflected the fact that the main priorit
y of much of the legislation was to
harmonize national regulation which would otherwise restrict trade, or to protect the
health and life of the EU biosphere

provided the measures did not restrict trade in an
unfair manner. The dominant policy idea of t
his period was the protection of the
aspects of the common market.

Over time, starting with the SEA, environmental priorities have played a greater role
in the EU constitutional basis; this has also been reflected in a number of the member

icularly the more pioneering Northern states.
Even with the full insertion
of the environment in the Treaties and most likely the pending the Cons
increasingly compet
itive international trade arena requires tremendous prioritization
for the po
licy officials within

the European Union has to attend to all the variables
that might alter its trading position and economic growth.

This pressure is only likely
to increase with the accession of ten poorer states.

Since Maastricht, EU treaties give

greater place to the concept of sustainability, which extends to the integration of
environmental concerns into other policy priorities. Nevertheless, the actualization of
a sustainability frame in the policy outputs and processes of EU environmental pol
has been more limited in reality (Lenschow and Zito, 1998, pp. 429

From the stand point of the environmental regime, certain national governments and
EU bodies may have pushed successfully for stricter environmental legislation at the
EU level

in the past
. However, many actors in the international arena and in the

of 25

have no interest in following these stricter standards, either because
they do not want to pay the regulatory burden or their governments do not deem the
problem to b
e serious.
These policy tensions are reflected in the functional
organizational structure of the EU. The individual Commission directorates, the
European Parliament (EP) committees and the individual Council meetings and
smaller group meetings contribute t
o a specialized policy process that has more
difficulty integrating perspectives and priorities within and across institutions. This
functional reality creates the possibilities for conflict within organizations motivated
by bureaucratic self
interest (e.g
. the desire to protect one’s own clientele, such as
environment engos) or by policy ideas oriented around the particular views and
priorities of those who dominate the issue area. Given the longer historical standing
of more traditional policy areas at b
oth the member state and EU level, particularly
centered on fiscal/economic management and the common market, the economic
Directorates of the Commission and the Economic Councils generally have more
prestige and influence than their environment counterpar
ts. Thus, when political
conditions indicate a tension between protecting market economic growth (the
common market policy frame) versus a more sustainable development frame, the
relative level of influence can be critical.

The sectoral differentiation and

various ambitions of the EU lead to a further
pervasive problem directly relevant to environmental policy

The principle of
sustainable development

suggests that there must be an integration of environmental
concerns into the other EU policy areas

(CEC, 1993). The deeply sectoral nature of
EU decision
making in the major institutions has met that this is an extremely
problematic hurdle. Elements of the Commission, Council and Parliament have been
able to take decisions that benefit agricultural in
terests in a way that has been
detrimental to the environment.

ing this situation and its fundamental role in sustainable development, the
Commission pushed this principle in its 5

Action Programme.

The Commission,
more concretely, decided to m
ake a number of changes to its organizational structure,
such as the creation of integration correspondents in each DG (Jordan, Schout, & Zito,
2003). Far greater legal and constitutional validity was given to this proposal by its
incorporation into Artic
le 6 of the Amsterdam Treaty. Nevertheless, the fact remains
that the increase in horizontal co
ordination has been problematic and require some
remedy and leadership that gets information across policy making units (Jordan &
Schout, 2003; Jordan, Schout,

& Zito, 2003)

Given how the tensions of different policy arenas and interests manifests itself both
in the macro policy negotiations and in the more micro administration found within
the EU process, this makes it more difficult to steer towards environ
mental objectives.
Indeed, in this past year Commission officials have noted to this author that other
environment DGs have used the concept of policy integration to constrain the DG
for Environment to take into consideration other EU policy values.

d. Problems of Political Authority and Legit

Perhaps the most significant governance challenge that the EU environmental policy
area and the EU more generally faces is the problematic linkage behind the European
community method, with its focus on
good policy outputs and the European society at
larger that confers legitimacy and authority to the EU. This issue will be covered by
the other papers in the conference and so this paper only attempts to flag up this issue
to show its relevance for enviro
nmental policy.

The Commission in its White Paper
on Governance makes this issue the point of departure for its discussion of the
governance problem (CEC, 2001). By the Commission’s own estimation, the gulf
between the EU system and its people is widenin
g and has substantial implications:
the inability of the EU to active effectively in areas where it is clearly needed, the lack
of credit given to the EU process for improving quality of life, lack of communication
by the member states about the EU process
, and general ignorance about the EU
institutional actors and what they do (CEC, 2001).

The heavily technical nature of EU environmental

policy requires early discussions
between policy experts where the presence of a democratic representative is unlike
to be strong. Furthermore the Commission has used the knowledge and
umentation of expert groups to
overcome objections raised by economic and
political interest in order to create environmental policy

so there is a strong political
dimension in th
e nature of this process (Héritier, 1997).

This EU reality is only
strengthened when one takes into account the role of international arena in shaping
actual EU policies.

ENGOs and
Civil society

Having laid out the specific governance challenges that

confront policy actors in the
EU environmental arena, it is now time to explore how these challenges affect the
position of civil society actors in this process.

Due to space constraints, this paper
looks solely at engos. ENGOS certainly do not represen
t all aspects of civil society,
but they are typically the most active voice representing the environmentalist point of
view within civil society; their constraints and opportunities illuminate what scope all
of civil society can have in trying to steer th
e EU towards stronger environmental

ENGOS must surmount all of the governance challenges mentioned
above, usually with very limited resources.
The first subsection explores the more
constitutional structural
aspects of EU environmental policy

The second subsection
looks at the

institutional opportunity

structures that

the EU system allows for
society involvement on the part of environmental non governmental organizations

The third subsection examines how engos have sought to co
pe with the
situation. The fourth subsection examines how the EU process is seeking to better
link civil society to the environmental policy process.

Constitutional, institutional, and ideational foundations

As was the case in its effort to enhance polic
y integration and

ordination, the
Commission has used explicit recognition

in the
Action Programmes,
particularly the Fifth (Commission of the European Communities, 1993),
to contend
that wider societal participation is necessary for effec
tive environmental policy.
Consequently the Commission has proposed various new policy instruments and
directives aiming to involve society. For example, the EU has created an eco
and the 1990 Information Directive to empower societal groups and, a
s a result of this
widening participation, increase the EU’s legitimacy (Héritier, 1999).

The EU has a
clear incentive to do so because the
place a

particularly significant limitation
on the scope of EU policy power: member states continue to con
trol EU financing and
policy implementation

in areas such as environment
. The states must implement
environmental policies with some Commission oversight, but their dominance of this
process is even stronger because the Commission’s limited resources make

it difficult
to monitor implementation (Jordan, 2002). These substantial constraints have induced
the EU supranational efforts to focus on creating regulatory policies (Majone, 1997).

Mapping the actors and opportunity structures

Given the complex web o
f EU institutions
(and its relations with other international
and the democratic political regimes in the member states, it appears that
the opportunity structure for engos is considerable. However, the actual opportunity
structure is more co
ntingent on the policy and political context. Using policy stage
analysis, the institutional multiplicity gives engos numerous chances to insert their
voice into the process. Nevertheless, while the complex institutional chain allows
actors to have input

about the agenda, the long link of bargains requires a truly
significant effort to

the issue on the agenda. This difficulty in maintaining a
favored definition of a problem and its solution intact (the problem of agenda

see Zito, 2
000) through the complex chain creates considerable
limitations on how engos can significantly affect outcomes.

Policy stage analysis reveals how EU opportunity structures may vary across each
stage. For instance, in the problem definition and setting of
the EU policy agenda, the
Commission has a particularly significant role in formulating EU legislation. With its
very limited staff and budget, it requires substantial input from the knowledge
communities based at both the national and regional levels. T
he Directorate General
(DG) for the Environment, traditionally perceived as being less prestigious and junior
within the Commission, has sought to build an actor network to assist. The network
provides essential material and knowledge support, but also co
nfers legitimacy vis á
vis the other institutions and Commission DGs, and preempts opposition from these
same groups in the network.

While the Commission still retains the dominant role in formulating legislative
proposals, it requires information and r
esource support to develop the proposals; it
also needs to build consensus with the other veto players, the Council and the EP
(Bomberg and Burns, 1999). If we combine this consultation dynamic with the
process of deciding proposals, both the Council, and

its member state representative
bodies, and the EP provide important opportunity structures. The opportunity
structure in the Council will vary for each national engo in terms of how open the
national structure is to the engo interests and policy frame.

The EP has several access
points through its pan
European parties, including a substantial Green party presence,
and the highly prominent Environment Committee (Judge, 1993; Bomberg and Burns,
1999). There are however numerous constraints that limit the
EP impact: lack of a
coherent party system, lack of voter interest in the parties and the body as a whole,
lack of resources to provide truly independent policy viewpoints. This lack of
resources actually makes the EP more receptive to engos who can provid
e knowledge
and even develop amendments and other legislative wording that Members can
simply adopt (Interviews ENGO and EP officials, 1992).

The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC), created in 1957 with the Treaty of
Rome represents another institutio
nal effort to incorporate civil society into the EU
process. It is also the formal channel for interest groups to insert their views.
Nevertheless ECOSOC remains a consultative body that the supranational institutions
have largely ignored (Jeffery, 2002)
. Its membership and organization of standing
committees reflect the dominant 1950s policy frame, one oriented around the creation
of the common market and the importance of employer/worker interests.
Environmental issues and groups tend to be lumped in re
sidual categories.

Although engos have opportunity structures throughout the policy stages, there are
significant limitations. EU agenda maintenance requires the knowledge and the
political exertion at each stage of the process and with regards to each ve
to point.
Given the immense range of environmental issues

discussed in the previous section as
well as the EU institutional complexity
, not even large and powerful engos such as
Greenpeace can have the specialist knowledge of both the issue and the politi
cal battle
for more than a limited set of issues. (Engo interviews, 1992, 2001). The Commission
DG for Environment, in its efforts to build an environmental coalition to support its
relatively weak position has provided a substantial amount of financial s
upport for
certain engos such as the EEB (Mazey and Richardson, 1992). However, this
interdependence has drawn criticisms from various quarters arguing that the DG
and/or the engos have lost autonomy and independence of thinking as a result of this
relationship. Nevertheless, Grant (
et al.
, 2000. p. 52) make the point that engos
tend to suffer from fewer intra
interests than their economic counterparts. This allows
for more co
operation and for a more unified presentation of one policy frame.

ENGO reaction to the EU environment

As environmental policy has become increasingly important for the EU, engos have
made a greater effort to influence the process and organize themselves. Moreover,
other societal interests have also gained awareness of th
e need to lobby the EU
process; thus engos face greater lobbying competition. Nevertheless, relatively few
engos have a permanent presence in Brussels, and those that do tend to have very
limited offices. Most engos concentrate their presence and influenc
e at the national
level (Rucht, 1993).
This, as well as the factors mentioned in the previous section, has

led the groups to often pool their resources and divide the effort amongst themselves
et al.
, 2000). The tendency has been for the creation of

a limited number of
umbrella groups that operate in Brussels, such as the Greenpeace International
European Unit and the European Environment Bureau. Engos also tend to participate
in single issue coalitions that represent environmental interests on a pa
rticular issue
area, such as the Climate Network Europe (Grant
et al.
, 2000).

The more organized and resource rich engos have sought to build networks and
orchestrate campaigns. This has included simultaneous lobbying of different EU
institutions as well

as efforts to mobilize national groups to influence the national
processes in their own countries. Larger ENGOs such as the World Wild Life Fund
and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have made a point of creating
programs to provide informati
on for various national groups and to represent these
efforts in Brussels (Engo interviews, 1992; Corrie, 1997).

Although ENGOs do have opportunity structures throughout the policy stages, there
are significant limitations. Agenda maintenance at the EU le
vel requires the
knowledge and the exertion of political resources at each stage of the process and with
regards to each veto point. Given the immense range of environmental issues, not
even large and powerful engos such as Greenpeace can have the special
ist knowledge
of both the issue and the political battle for more than a limited set of issues. (Engo
interviews, 1992, 2001). Moreover engos traditionally (the next section notes the
potential changes in this area) have lacked the kind of rights they wou
ld find at the
national level, including the right to information (Rucht, 1993). Thus the provision
of information and the early and sustained consultation about the EU agenda has
occurred in a largely ad hoc and arbitrary fashion, and on an informal bas
is. Engos do
not have the right of standing before the European Court of Justice (Grant
et al.

The Commission DG for Environment, in its efforts to build an environmental
coalition to support its relatively weak position has even gone so far as
to provide a
substantial amount of financial support for certain engos, such as the European
Environmental Bureau or EEB (Mazey and Richardson, 1992). Even now the
Commission, for example, provides over 42% of the EEB funding; which the EEB
leadership inte
rprets as requiring it to act as the engo representative across a wide
range of policy issues (EEB, 2003). However, various actors have criticized this
engo interdependence, arguing that both parties have lost autonomy and
independence of think
ing as a result of this dependence. One consequence has been
the tendency for both the DG and the engos to neglect other important (e.g. economic)
institutions and interest groups. Nevertheless, Grant
et al.

(2000. p. 52) argue that
engos tend to suffer f
rom fewer intra
interests than their economic counterparts,
which enables more co
operation and unity in presenting one policy frame.

he factors mentioned

have led the groups to pool their resources and divide
the effort amongst themselves (Grant
t al.
, 2000; Long 1998). There has been the
creation of a limited number of umbrella groups that operate in Brussels, such as the
Greenpeace International European Unit and the EEB. Engos also tend to participate
in single issue coalitions that focus on s
pecific environmental issue areas, such as the
Climate Network Europe (Grant
et al.
, 2000). It also leads engos having difficulty
moving the political system towards their perspective to engage in leverage politics by
playing the EU institutions, particula
rly the Commission, against the member state
governments. Thus lobbying action and participation occurs at both national and
regional levels.

The more organized and resource rich engos have sought to build
networks and orchestrate campaigns. This has inc
luded simultaneous lobbying of
different EU institutions as well as efforts to mobilize national groups to influence the
national processes in their own countries (Engo interviews, 1992; Corrie, 1997).

The multiplicity of issues and the complexity of the E
U system have led some of the
major groups to form the Green 8 (originally a smaller G

4). This loose
, informal

grouping, which includes the WWF and Greenpeace, helps to co
ordinate the
activities and people regarding the regional engo effort (Engo inter
view, 23.9.2003).
There is a tendency for the group members to specialize rather than to cover all of the
issue areas. While the Green 8 has an important and very visible presence due to its
membership, Warleigh (2000) rightly argues that loose, fluid and

ad hoc coalitions
consisting of more actors are often the key means by which ngos influence the EU

Nevertheless, the knowledge/capacity building and leverage linkages have remain a
major ENGO priority because of the enormous impact of Eastern Eu
enlargement. Organizations like the EEB have recruited 20 new members covering
all of the accession countries (Engo interview, 23.09.2003).
he EEB, the WWF and
other groups have sought to promote workshops and other learning activities to train
cession engos; besides educating them in knowledge strategies, there is a conscious
effort to train the groups and enhance their role as members in the national and EU
civil society (Bomberg, 2003).

Turning to the specific policy stages in which engos can

influence the EU process,
there is the important agenda setting role of providing information and lobbying
support to the definition of environmental problems and the selection of solutions
(e.g. the Blue Flag for water quality). They have sought to targe
t member state
representatives, Commission officials and Members of the European Parliament
(MEPs), with specific policy information and amendments. They have mustered their
constituents to voice their opinion and used media occasions to attack their
nents’ positions. Engo research suggests that successful past collaborations,
recognized expertise and a large membership are the criteria that make certain engos
more attractive to other EU policy actors (Warleigh, 2000).

At the same time, however, eng
os seem to lack the knowledge and resources to fully
lobby member state delegations and the Council Secretariat, even when circumstances
lead these actors to welcome engo activity (Warleigh, 2000). In the EU negotiation
process, the engo position and suppo
rt may change the opinion of institutional actors,
but this is less likely; the more likely scenario is that they provide support and
ammunition for the opposing position and the coalition of actors seeking to promote
that position. Thus other actors can
take up the engo position to assist their campaign
and perhaps use the engo position to mask their own position from attack (Warleigh,

The engo resource problem makes it difficult to follow an EU issue and have a
sustained policy presence throughou
t all the steps of the process; they also often lack
the detailed expertise needed to calibrate and evaluate policy instruments (Grant
et al.
2000). Engos have striven hard to influence the EU policy selection process, not only
in terms of taking position
s on specific policy instruments such as regulations, but
also to push for the adoption of wider principles and policy attitudes towards

Turning to the issues of implementation and monitoring of policy, the engos have
played a substantial role

in aspects of these stages. One obvious role is the reporting
of what is happening at the national level (Keck and Sikkink’s informational and
accountability politics). However this effort can also involve coalition building and
leverage politics. In try
ing to develop more emphasis on sustainable development in
EU regional policy, the WWF coordinated an effort to build awareness on the topic
and provide opportunities for discussion among the various interests (Corrie, 1997).

Throughout all the policy mak
ing processes, the engos are struggling with
institutional complexity, limited access to particular negotiating arenas and the sheer
resource demands of playing a significant role in a technical policy role. This
position is only heightened when consideri
ng policy areas where the EU is negotiating
international treaties and interacting with international institutions, which also tend to
have very limited opportunity structures for civil society. Nevertheless, the engo with
a good understanding of the EU a
nd international process is able to play the
Schaatschneider game as Greenpeace and other engos have demonstrated. Focusing
strategically on media
friendly angles to the complex negotiations occurring at the
international level may allow the engos to defi
ne aspects of debate as was seen in the
Basle negotiations. Nevertheless the complexity of the issues and the process ensures
that engos will tend to only pick their spots to intervene across the whole host of EU

and that means that the civil socie
ty dimension to the EU process is lacking.

V. Bridging

the Governance Challenges

(note well: incomplete)

This section examples the range of policy solutions the
EU has

at its disposal, using
Hall’s threefold distinction of structure, style and content. T
here is no attempt to
argue that there is one solution or method of governance. Indeed the dominant
metaphor of this section is to argue that the EU consists of an evolving patchwork of
governance. Some of its is based on the evolution of formal institut
ions and law
while some of the patchwork is based on what Héritier (1997) calls ‘second order’
more informal policy structures. At the same time there will be formal interaction
between institutions and society and more informal networking. Finally the E
environmental policy will reflect a mixture of ‘hard’ regulatory measures that involve

certain defined activities on the part of stakeholders and more ‘soft’
environmental measures

that give greater flexibility and sometimes even a greater rol
to other policy actors. The expectation is not that this basket of instruments and
processes will fully respond to the governance challenges listed before; rather, they
suggest that one model/solution will not provide the solutions and that there is a f
incremental process of building layers of process that involve civil society and protect
the environment.

Policy Structures

In discussion processes and networks it is sometimes easy to forget the importance of
law. Nevertheless, the EU does have so
me opportunities to create rules which may
force greater environmental policy integration and

civil society involvement. A key
opportunity that has received substantial
publicity is

the Constitutional Convention, in
order to prepare for Enlargement. The f
inal outcome of the intergovernmental
conference to discuss the draft treaty is unclear, but it is interesting to note the
substantial ENGO effort to have an impact on the governance
questions in

the context
of the constitutional debate.
The convention was

a clear opportunity for all EU actors
to shape the institutional rules of the game at the highest level.

The Green 8 sought to
put forward a coordinated submission to the Convention and proposed the insertion of
various references to principles representi
ng the sustainable development policy
frame in the Convention draft. Repeated lobbying by pro environment actors
managed to get the notion of environmental policy integration into a specific section;
it also led to the maintenance of environmental protec
tion in the objectives of the
Union and to in the inclusion of the ecological aspect of sustainable development on
the same footing as the social and economic aspects (Hallo, 2003). Nevertheless the
Green 8’s other proposals to enhance the presence of the

policy idea in

the EU process met with less success. The Convention introduced an article on
‘participatory democracy, but the engos find it still too vague and would have
preferred the use of the Aarhus Convention language (Hallo, 2003).

Given the mixed
results and the clear continued priority given to economic as well as environmental
objectives, the larger picture of the EU process seems to remain one where the EU
process and the institutional norms are constraining engo activities.

uch less publicized but perhaps a much more critical

, if US
environmental history is at all suggestive,

EU effort to implement the Aarhus
Convention, an international agreement which was signed in 1998 to enhance citizen
access to inform
ation and participation in environmental decision
making. As a result
of the obligations the EU undertook in this international treaty, the Commission is
currently drawing up several pieces of legislation to implement the Convention,
including a Direction

under the rubric of Access to Justice, which would allow Engos
to go to the ECJ

(CEC, 2003)
. Environment Directorate Commission officials have
sought to involve engos in this discussion, in order to help the development and build
a political coalition in

support of the legislation. (Interviews, Commission offic
Engo official, 23.09.2003).

This proposal which must be ratified by the member
states and the

creates a potentially very important access point for
members of civil society, includ
ing ENGOs.

This part of the paper is incomplete. The paper at this point would spend a portion of
time looking more closely at measures that might support network governance as well
specific policy instruments that bring in the civil society.

VI. Conclus

(note well: incomplete)

This paper

has presented four major challenges for EU environmental policy and how
to ensure an effective role of civil society in this policy process. The picture painted
in this argument is that the actors face a position ra
ther analogous to Keohane and
idea of complex interdependence. Difficult issues that are nested in
other political issues and unforeseen linkages made by other actors have made the job
of steering the EU towards specific goals much more unpre

Power and
influence most decidedly do exist in this governance system, but they are more likely
to manifest themselves in unpredictable ways.

The paper, as an illustration, then examines the specific position ENGOs, who are
only one actor withi
n the civil society active on EU environmental policy, find
themselves in a positive of numerous EU environmental issues and very limited
organizational resources. It is in this context that the many technical issues and the
complexity of the EU process w
hich may involve diplomatic negotiations between
international actors makes the ENGO position even more difficult. Nevertheless the
complex reality of the policy process, does allow the strategic coalition of actors the
opportunity to make use of veto poi
nts and new arenas in other to shape the
governance agenda in their own way.
There are chances to exert influence on the
steering of the EU policy.

Nevertheless, due to the resource constraints and complexity of the challenge, it is
difficult for the EN
GOs to sustain such effort across many issue areas and all the
policy stages of these policy areas. In terms of evidence of engos shaping the EU
process, the fact remains that key engo actors see their organizations as mainly
reacting to the EU institution
al process, although they attempt to take an active
strategy to their reactions (Rucht, 1993; Engo official, 23.09.2003).

The EU does have opportunities for addressing this governance divide

some involve
formal processes while others are more informal
nature. The basic reality of the EU
environmental governance process is that it is both a regulatory and political

In this reality sudden policy change is less likely; the learning process is
more likely to be gradual and incremental.


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