Department of Political Studies - University of Catania

Jean Monnet Chair of European Comparative Politics

Jean Monnet Working Papers in Comparative and International Politics


University of Catania


European Integration and Environment: are we going Towards a Cleaner Federal State?


December 1996 - JMWP 02.96

Globalization and fragmentation are recurrent words used to describe changes affecting the international system.

There is a growing body of literature emphasising the emergence of a new global system, in which states are linked one another, or, just like the European Union, in which nation-states give up part of their own sovereignty in favour of common institutions.

New principles inspire the behaviour of the international community, sometimes in harmony with traditional rules, but sometimes in contrast with them. Just think of the principle of the protection of environment conceived as a common good: although this new principle invades the sovereign right of States to exploit freely their own natural resources, it is now commonly accepted that national boundaries cannot prevent co-operation in this field (1).

At the same time, an opposite process is contrasting globalization: fragmentation. In reaction to the process of homogenisation imposed by global processes, human communities or social groups are determined to be the makers of their own destiny.

Both these processes are affecting the evolution of the European Union. Globalization has been translated into the elaboration of "large scale measures that only multilateral institutions, as the Brussels ones, can lay down and address; the EU adaptation to fragmentation has come out through "coesion, social and regional policies" and through institutions that give space to subnational levels (2).

The purpose of this paper is to find out the link existing among globalization, fragmentation and integration within the European Union, with special reference to the protection of environment. The basic assumption is that for the reason why environmental protection requires a strengthening of co-operation among member states, the EU represents an unique arena to analyse the way environmental problems are faced and (possibly) solved. At the same time, making use of the multi-level governance model, we aim at analysing the general process of integration affecting the Union, under the pressures coming both from globalization and fragmentation, showing how environmental protection has contributed to the process itself.

The multi-level governance model, stating that "European integration is a polity creating process in which authority and policy-making influence are shared across multiple levels of government" (3), perfectly suits with EU environmental policy since contacts between multiple levels of government are required, especially in the stage of implementation.

The paper is made up of three main parts. In the first one a general insight on globalization, fragmentation and European integration is provided: the starting point is that the process of globalization affecting the planet and challenging the Nation-state as main actor of international politics needs to be taken into account when analysing the process of European integration. In the same way, pushes towards fragmentation are taken into account.

The second part deals with multi-level governance and the way it explains the evolution of the European Union.

In the third part a general view of the evolution of EU environmental policy is provided, lingering on the main instrument used by the Union to reach its environmental targets.

The final part analyses the processes taking place within the EU and bringing to an effective environmental policy; focusing on the role played by the European Parliament and its Environmental Committee, in shaping EU environmental policy, the multi-level governance lens will be used to discuss the Union approach to environment.

As stated in the title, there is a dominating question in the paper: are we going towards a cleaner federal state? Reading through the lines, it will be possible to perceive an inclination towards a federalist interpretation of the EU evolution, though the federalist process is not conceived as a compulsory target, but a "suggested" model chosen for its suitability with the multi-level structure that characterises the EU today.


Globalization, fragmentation and integration in the European Union


Rapid communication, transnational flows of finance, capital and trade, binding communities spread across the globe, weaker national boundaries affected by external flows, are the most evident features of today’s world (4).

Globalization is easily associated to the crisis of the nation-states. It represents a challenge to national boundaries and implies an increase of international co-operation, which is the acknowledgement of the incapacity of nation-states of dealing with modern world issues.

In this contest co-operation among states is not a choice any longer and, though still keeping most of its traditional powers, the westphalian model of nation-state is facing a decline.

Nevertheless, looking at theories of European integration, it is evident that state-centric approaches still get some success, though reality suggests that, when referring to the EU, even the concept of "international co-operation" is outdated.

The debate on integration has been moving between the supporters of the nation-states, conceiving the EU as the result of inter-state co-operation, always put into practice bearing in mind national interest, and the "withering away of the state" supporters, who have been interpreting the evolution of the EU as a process leading to an extension of the original purposes, which, in the federalist perspective, were to settle a federal state.

Both approaches, in their multiple variants, have turned to be less predictive than they were supposed to: no-one can deny that the EU is more than an intergovernmental institution, but, on the other hand, the federalist project, as it was conceived 40 years ago, seems to have been replaced by a "new" federalism, which seems more inclined to a "small steps" strategy.

Now the dynamics affecting the planet are to be included into the debate on the European integration. Starting with Wallace’s "informal integration", coming out from "intense patterns of interaction which develop without the impetus of deliberate political decisions following the dynamics of markets, technology, communications networks and social change" (5), Rosamond suggests that globalization should not be interpreted as an "homogeneity creating process". It is commonly thought that the "global village" implies uniformity. Rosamond contests this way of perceiving globalization; on the opposite, he argues that the impact of global dynamics depends on the mediation provided by sub-national levels. The success of globalization relies on the way that global dynamics are taken over by each of these levels. Compared to the European Union, this concept enhances the position of all levels building up the Union system, so that if at world-wide level globalization is contrasted by the opposite process of fragmentation, and the re-emergence of nationalism is explained as a reaction to the process of standardisation, when talking about the EU a change of perspective is needed. To some extent, globalization is not linked to intergovernmental bargaining. On the opposite, it is mainly based on cultural flows, which depend on intersocietal transactions. If we apply this model of globalization to the EU, the result is a conception of "integration as a process of europeanization" (Rosamond, 1995). Exalting common values, but keeping in mind historical differences, the Union represents a "special channel" through which Western European states can face the twofold challenge of today’s’ world. In the Europan Union, globalization does not mean cancellation of history, and all differences that it implies; nor means fragmentation exaltation of local identities, incompatible with the feeling of being also European.

Both processes contribute to a more general process of "Europeification", which, on its turn, strengthen the integration process.


Multi-level governance in the EU


When the EEC was founded, in 1957, the purpose was that of creating a Custom Union, though political projects of wider breath were already latent in the mind of the founders. In a sense western Europe was reacting to the rise of interdependence and to the emergence of increased internal needs which required co-operation among states. As a matter of fact, in its first stage, European integration was technical and not politicised. But the EU has gone far beyond the original purposes, adding the variable "democratisation" which among its meanings includes that of "erosion of central power" through the creation of sub-national and supra-national levels of governance and which has given birth to a multi-level governance system. (Attiną 1995). So scholars should give up the fear of using the concept of "federation" when talking about the European Union, though bearing in mind that the original project of the United States of Europe, as it had been conceived originally, needs adaptation to the emergent multi-level political system whose institutional goal may be a federation.

What is peculiar of this model is the fact that it does not get rid of the nation-state as actor of the process of integration, but it reshapes its role; mutual dependence is the key word of multi-level governance. The point of departure of this model is that there are overlapping competencies among multiple levels of governments and political actors interact across those levels. The state centrist two-level game, between domestic politics and intergovernmental bargaining, is replaced by a multi-level game. (Marks, Scharpf, Schmitter, Streeck, 1996). "Decision-making competencies are shared by actors at different levels rather than monopolised by state executives" (6). What’s more, states are not victims of integration, but, in a sense, they are among its strongest supporters, because they realise that benefits from integration may outweigh costs. From the 1957 treaties to the Maastricht era, shift of states’ sovereignty have increased to the point that states are "far less dominant in most areas of day-to-day policy-making" (7).

The "game" of mutual dependence mentioned above is quite evident when analysing all stages of EU policy-making. In a multi-level governance perspective policy initiation, decision-making, implementation and adjudication are all characterised by a continuous interaction of all actors: Council (representing Nation-states), Commission, European Parliament and Court of Justice. For example, formally the power of initiative belongs to the Commission. If we accept the state-centric argument that the Commission’s proposals are elaborated taking into account nation-states demands, we should also embrace the idea that a rising number of initiatives come out from the European Parliament, and this balances the powers of nation-states. Of course, this kind of proposals are the outcome of unofficial pressures which can’t be easily recognised in the final draft of the proposal, unless its contribution is officially acknowledged. For example, in the preface of the Green Paper on the Urban Environment, the Commissioner Ripa di Meana affirmed that the paper was " a practical response to the resolution tabled in December 1988 by a member of the European Parliament, Mr Ken Collins, urging that the problems facing the urban environment be studied in greater detail" (8).

Even the decision-making stage is no longer under the exclusive control of states. Qualified-majority is the rule for many policy areas, the increased powers of the EP offer the assembly the chance of intervening actively and the Luxembourg compromise, usually recalled by state-centric supporters is less used than one might think.

At the stage of implementation, mutual dependence is even more evident. Actually, not only play sub-national actors an important role in the former stages, both through the Committee of the Regions and through the offices that sub-national authorities have set up in Brussels, their importance becomes crucial when implementation is required, since at this level competencies are shared.

This few considerations on multi-level governance do not exhaust the debate but are useful to introduce the environmental question and its link with the European integration.


From market related measures to an independent environmental policy.


When the Rome Treaty was written its authors did not take into account environment, since member states were only concerned about post-war reconstruction and underestimated the link existing between economic development and environmental protection. Until the introduction of the Single European Act, EC environmental policy lacked an explicit legal basis, though, in the meanwhile, a world-wide concern for environment had arisen. Some 35 years later environmental policy is a major part of the EU's activities.

The development of EC environmental policy did not come out mainly from a spontaneous recognition of "common interest" by member States. As a matter of fact, the Union moved its first steps in the environmental field just to abolish obstacles to trade between the Member States. What transformed environmental policy from an incidental to an essential part of the Union policy was the awareness of the environmental consequences of unregulated economic growth, the alarming appeals coming from the scientific community and increased public sensitivity to environmental issues, which in some member states conveyed to the institutional channels of the political system giving life to green parties (9).

The Union has taken up the challenge and in the last decade it has been working very hard to strengthen its capability of reaction and of action to environmental problems both within its boundaries and at the international level.

The action of the EU in the environmental field has been expressed through Action Programmes; the First one was approved in 1972, the last one, the Fifth, will end in 2000. During these years the Union has slowly changed its approach to environmental problems, so that if the First Action Programme just suggested how to cure the injures provoked by the industrial society, the fifth one stresses the need of integrating environmental considerations into the formulation and implementation of economic sectoral policies through the concept of "sustainable development".

Today the Community environmental policy is one of the most striking success of the EU and it has also greatly influenced the general process of integration of the Union itself, especially through the action of the European Parliament, the "green heart" of the EU.

Just revising rapidly the evolution of the EC environmental policy, it would be unfair to affirm that during its first fifteen years the EU did not take into consideration the environmental disease; actually some environmental provisions were introduced through some juridical handles (10) but they were all pragmatic measures, rather than specific policies, whose purpose was that of harmonising internal laws to favour the demolition of commercial obstacles.

In the absence of a well structured legal framework, the Council approved several environmental laws. In 1967 a directive established a uniform system of classification, labelling and packaging of dangerous substances. In 1970 the Council passed directives concerning sound level and exhaust systems of motor vehicles, which has always been one of the most delicate and discussed environmental matters within the EU.

The first Community Action Programme on the environment, launched in 1972, marked the beginning of an actual policy, although still lacking of an official legal basis. Since then, four more Action Programmes were projected, each of them adding a new dimension to the building up of an European environmental policy.

The greatest results came out from the Single European Act, which put an end to perceptions of "Eurosclerosis" and caused great optimism about the future of the EC. Although the most important outcome of the negotiations was the decision of going ahead with the completion of the internal market and for the reason why forces behind the new treaty were not directly connected with environment, the increase in economic activities involved by the SEA represented a real danger for the state of the environment. In this context a Commission Task Force published a report on "Environment and the Internal Market" stating the need for a regulated economic growth preserving the health of the environment. The result was Title VII on "Environment", introduced in part III of EEC Treaty, the one concerned with policies which provided the formal legal foundation of the community environmental policy (11). Besides, with the introduction of the co-operation procedure, the SEA has contributed to the expansion of the role of the EP, which has supported a stricter environmental legislation compared to the Council.

The most recent innovations go back to the Treaty of Maastricht (12). The role of the Community in the formulation of environmental rules has been widened and stabilised. Not only acts Brussels more and more in areas which used to be reserved to the member states, but it is also acquiring an international status both representing the states in some international occasions and granting the member states’ respect of international agreement. Nevertheless, tensions among states, difficulties of implementation and the exceptions to the adoption of qualified voting, vague enough to be used, show that the road is still long and complex.

The latest Action Programme, the Fifth one, significantly entitled "Towards Sustainability", is a highly significant policy development, especially because it emphasises the need of integrating environmental considerations into other policy areas.

The EU environmental policy is mainly carried out through some specific key instruments.

The case of EEA provides a good example of the capacity of the EP to influence EC legislation and underlines the tenacity of the Environment Committee in pursuit of "green" policy resolutions, giving proof of its dynamic conception of policy issues.

The Union environmental legislation cover several areas; the main ones are:


Green politics in the EU


Environment is a relatively recent issue. Until thirty years ago any endeavour of talking about the harmful consequences of economic growth would have been considered a reactionary attempt to progress, or, in the best of the hypothesis, it would have been ignored. Nowadays the world seems to have discovered its green conscience.

Environmental policy is also one of the EU successful stories, though, as discussed above, it has taken years before the EU could claim to be "ecologically oriented".

Before 1972 only a few environmentally conscious national governments were leading the EU environmental policy (if one existed at those times!). Now everyone is green and even if we could suspect that governments make noise about environmental degradation only because this strengthens popular support, other actors involved are supposed to act independently from this kind of consideration.

If we analyse three of the main stages of Policy-making in the European Union (policy initiation, decision-making and implementation) in a multi-level governance perspective, the main result is that nation-states’ power is clearly eroded by supra and sub national actors, confirming that policy-making power in the EU is dispersed. (Marks et als, 1996). The EU environmental policy has required the engagement and the efforts of several actors. Apart from national governments, green movements and green parties have supported the "green revolution" and, what is peculiar of the EU, a green institution has played a major role, the European Parliament.

Leaving aside green movements and green parties, the following part of the paper will focus on the European Parliament and on its activity in favour of the protection of the environment, mainly carried out through its Environment Committee, since the EP act mainly through its Committees. In a multi-level governance perspective, the attention paid to the EP supports the weight of European institutions in the decision-making process and stresses the existence of a mutual dependence within the EU, which justifies the replacement of state-centric approaches. We will also argue that this pressures have also affected the general process of integration of the EU.

In the 1957 Treaty the Assembly was supposed to have only a "consultive status" and even when direct election was introduced, in 1979, the EP was considered a "not very powerful" institution, dominated by the Council of Ministers and by the Commission. Both the SEA and the Treaty of Maastricht have claimed a new role for the EP, whose influence in the decision making process of the EC has greatly increased.

The EP impact on the evolution of the EU has been carried out both at "macro" and "micro" level. At macro level the European Parliament has contributed to the debate on further steps towards union, at micro level the EP has modified its internal rules and, with a "small step strategy", it has managed to improve its load on the policy-making process (Judge, Earnshaw and Cowan, 1994).

Formally, the Commission has the power to initiate and draft legislation, but recently it has been found that only a minor percentage of EU proposals were spontaneous initiatives of the Commission. In the environmental field, in spite of the initial juridical lacks, the EP pushed its ideas into the policy-making process through own-initiative reports, which allowed each MEP to table a 200 word motion for resolution on any matter falling under the competence of EC. These resolutions were then referred to the appropriate Committee which had to decide whether or not to produce a report or an opinion. The Committees themselves were allowed to draw an "own initiative" reports (eco-labelling, Economic and Fiscal instruments, implementation of EC environmental law).

Apart from "legislative" initiatives, the EP intervened in a pre-legislative stage to raise a new issue in the overcrowded Commission Agenda, or to encourage the action of the Commission in a particular field. The Environment Committee has often chosen an active strategy, expressing its concerns and proposals, rather than simply waiting to react to formal Commission proposals (as part of the consultation process). Of course it is very hard to verify the influence of the Committee on the final proposal. In very few occasions this influence is widely acknowledged, as it happened with the Commission’s Green Paper on Urban Environment mentioned previously. (Judge and Earnshaw, 1994). Though informal, the EP intervention in the pre-legislative stage is not a one-way process, since there are always informal contacts between Commission officials and EP committees on draft legislation. However, Environment Committee itself did not wish that the EP was formally included in the process of consultation, arguing that it would "reduce Parliament’s pre-legislative contribution to that of merely another lobby" (14), but it just aimed at maintaining this informal link with the Commission, to keep it informed on the position within the Parliament on a specific matter.

The SEA and the Treaty of Maastricht have increased the Assembly powers, strengthening its capacity of influencing the process of integration. So has the EP become formally influent in the decision-making process. For example, through the co-operation procedure, the SEA accorded to the EP the power of rejecting, upon an absolute majority, a Council "common position" at second reading. Only rarely has EP resorted to this power, and twice the Environment Committee was involved: in November 1988, after the Commission refused to accept the amendments suggested by the Committee on a proposed directive on the protection of workers from benzene in the workplace, and in May 1992 the EP, on advice of the Environment Committee, rejected the common position on a proposal for a directive on artificial sweeteners.

The DG XI itself recognises the EP and its Environment Committee as precious allied in the legislative role and this consideration is shared by organised interest groups.

EU decision-making is made up of multiple "intermeshing competencies, complementary policy functions, and variable lines of authority" (15) - all typical features of multi-level governance.

In the implementation stage, multi-level governance dominates. There are formal procedures conceived to favour implementation of EC legislation, and most of them rely on member states. Although comitology has increased state competencies at this level, this is not an absolute power. It is formally shared with the Commission and member states themselves often send experts who, usually, are not civil servants, but interest group representatives, not necessarily faithful to central government. As far as environmental policy is concerned, in most member states competencies are shared across different territorial levels, and this can often slow down the implementation process. In order to make agreements easier, in 1990 the Commission adopted so-called "package meetings" which gathered representatives of all levels. The success of this measure is proved by the fact that, though it is a volunteer one, many countries resort to it (Marks et als., 1996, 368).

The European Parliament has always been interested in implementation. Since 1984, it receives from the Commission Annual Reports on the monitoring of the application of Community law. The Environment Committee itself produces reports on implementation. The first two ones, dealing with water and air, were submitted in 1987, and were adopted by the EP in 1988. These reports confirmed the Committee’s willingness to play actively part in the implementation process.


A few considerations on the future of EU: are we really going towards a cleaner federal state?


After a decade of "Euroenthusiasm", it seems that european integration is running the risk of falling again in a period of standstill. Economic recession and debates on furhter steps of integration may spread the sensation that a period of "Eurosclerosis" is starting again.

It is very hard to provide the receipt to solve the Union diseases. The mental map used should be borne in mind when analysing successes and failures of the EU integration process: a negative approach aims at showing the cracks in the European structure, while a positive approach praises the innovation brought forth by the Union. A third approach, the neutral one, though supposed to grant an objective version of the facts, is the less probable to be used. In this paper, if there has been an ebb in one of these approaches, it has been in the positive field.

The Union story is a successful one, for the reason why, in nowadays world facing the double challenge of globalization and fragmentation, it manages both to strengthen its members’ reaction to the first world wide process and it is keeping states together in spite of centrifugal pushes.

Through the analysis of the EU environmental policy, I have tried to show that the process of integration is on the right path. The globalizing push turns into the increase of co-operation, while fragmentation gives voice to all levels building up the EU and it especially comes out in the stage of implementation, for in several European countries competencies in this area are shared across different national levels (Marks G. et als). Today, virtually all aspects of national environmental policy have been transferred to the Community level, at least as far as legislative production is concerned, since it is considered the most appropriate decision-making level for no-boundary issues as the environmental ones.

This policy has settled in a niche of the institutional structure of the Community and has developed to an extent never expected when the first program was adopted. The Fifth Action Programme, emphasising the integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas, is contributing to the policy moving out from its "policy ghetto" (Sbragia, 1993). At the same time, environmental policy has influenced the strength of the integration process, providing a new impulse in a period of "Eurosclerosis" (16). Probably it does not compensate for the lack of the deepening of integration in other crucial sectors, but, nevertheless, the expansion of the Community into a new policy area and the continuous growth of Community environmental law, through a "dynamic interpretation" of the Treaties, as it happened in the early ‘70’s, have given new impulse to the integration process. Moreover, the expansion of the Community role in the environmental field, has labelled the EU as a forum for addressing new problems for which "supranational" solutions are needed. (Cappelletti, Seccombe, Weiler, 1985)

There is a reverse of the medal, which is implementation. Given the differences of the administrative structures among the Fifteen, implementation problems in the Community are serious. It is quite clear that the development of Community enforcement mechanism is not comparable to the expansion of the legislative activity. "Poor implementation runs the risk of reducing the credibility and acceptability of Community environment policy" (17). However, this problems has several facets which cannot be adequately be discussed here (18).

In the introduction a question was asked: are we going towards a cleaner federal state? The debate on the federal evolution of the EU is still lively; comparing the EU to federal political systems, especially co-operative ones, provides an useful tool to explain the integration process. To some extent, the Union’s federal features are widely acknowledged. In the environmental field, Brussels has increased its powers in significant way, given that the Union is not still a federation. Probably, the debate should concentrate on the fact that the EU is still a not well identified object and, for years, scholars have been debating about its likely outcome. Scepticals still consider too strong national governments’ commitment, though they admit that the EU is more than an intergovernmental organisation; promoters of the integration progress, in their most ambitious variant, talk about the "United States of Europe".

Nevertheless, we can’t live with a "prevision anxiety"; if we ascribe the success or failure of the EU to its correspondence with the models elaborated and to achievements of a target, we run the risk of loosing sight of all kind of progress. As Schmitter has recently affirmed, "the EC/EU may have no strategic design, but will emerge in an improvised fashion from tactical responses to much more concrete and immediate problems" (19). After all the EU structure is completely different from that of national governments, and it is in a stage of continuous development. In Caporaso’s view, "the EU is not a primitive national political system waiting to blossom" (20).

Sharing the position of those authors claiming for the novelty of the EU integration process, this paper aimed at providing a picture of today’s situation making reference to the multi-level approach as the most adequate for this purpose.

Because of its successful results, the EU environmental policy has been chosen to underline the importance of a policy single contribution to the european integration process. Not only brings the environmental policy "good news" for the health of the Union natural environment, but it also supports a "dynamic interpretation" of the integration process, praising the strengths of an unitarian approach, but also emphasising the differences between the member states, at all levels.

The Union has created a system of mutual dependence and it is not so improbable, how critics usually affirm, that future integrationist developments will take place soon. In a recent essay, David Held affirmed that until last decade no-one would have preconized the end of communism, the fall of Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, but they all took place. Held’s statements refer to the creation of a cosmopolitan model of democracy, but they perfectly suit with the process of European integration: in such a globalized world, where changes take place at extraordinary speed, who can predict the future of the Union? (Held 1995).


(1) Attiną Fulvio (1993), Il sistema internazionale verso la globalizzazione, in "Politica Internazionale", 21, 2, 5-18 Back to (1)

(2) Attiną Fulvio (1996), Tendenze e problemi della globalizzazione e della frammentazione, in Attiną F. e Longo F. (eds), Unione Europea e Mediterraneo fra globalizzazione e frammentazione, Cacucci, Bari, 29. Back to (2)

(3) Marks G., Hooghe L. and Blank K. (1996), European Integration from the 1980’s: State-centric vs Multi-level Governance, in "Journal of Common Market Studies", 34, 3, 342. Back to (3)

(4) Among the bulk of publications on Globalization, I would single out McGrew A., Lewis P. et als. (1992), Global Politics. Globalization and the Nation-State, Polity Press. Back to (4)

(5) Rosamond Ben (1995), Mapping the European Condition: The Theory of Integration and The Integration of Theory, in "European Journal of International Relations", 1, 3, 400. Back to (5)

(6) Marks G. et als (1996), 346. Back to (6)

(7) Marks G. et als (1996), 352. Back to (7)

(8) Judge David and Earnshaw David (1994), Weak Parliament influence? A study of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, in "Government and Opposition", 29, 2, 265. Back to (8)

(9) The development of EU environmental policy is fully supervised in Philip Hildebrand (1993) The European Community’s Environmental Policy, 1957 to 1992: from Incidental Measures to an International Regime? in Judge D. (ed), A Green Dimension for the European Community.Political Issues and Processes, Frank Cass, 13-44. Back to (9)

(10) Art. 2 calls for the promotion throughout the Community of a "harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an accelerated raising of standards of living and closer relations between the states belonging to it".

Art. 36 refers implicitly to the protection of the environment since it states that it is justifiable to restrict imports, exports or goods in protect health and life of human beings, animals and plants.

Art.235 allows the Council to take the "appropriate measures" to "attain, in the course of the operation of the common market, one of the objectives of the Community...where the treaty has not provided the necessary powers". Unanimity is required, after a proposal of the Commission and after consulting the Parliament.

Art. 100 authorises the Council, acting unanimously to "issue directives for the approximation of such provisions ..."directly affecting the establishment or functioning of the Common market. Back to (10)

(11) The new article 100A allows the resort to qualified majority for questions related to environment. In a sense this provision strands in contrast with article 235 and 100, both requiring unanimity as well as the new art. 130s. As a matter of fact art. 100a is, in principal, reserved for traded products. But the European Court of Justice has clarified this legal confusion giving preference to Art. 100a (Titanium dioxide case 300/89). Although majority voting may not have revolutionised environmental policy, it has made it more difficult for few countries to block certain environmental proposals. Back to (11)

(12) Title I, Article B: amends art. 2 of the Treaty of Rome, which referred to a "continuous and balanced expansion". The new title refers to a "harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable an no-inflationary growth respecting the environment". So the new article includes at community level the concept of "sustainable development".

Art. 3(K) states that the activities of the Community shall embody "a policy in the sphere of the environment". Title XVI explicitly refers to Community policy on the environment rather than to action by the Community relating to the environment, as stated in previous art.130r. Besides, qualified majority voting has been introduced for most matters of environmental policy, with some exceptions, primarily of fiscal nature and related to policies with limited transnational effects, such as town and county planning. This step has solved the uncertainty under the SEA amendments to the Treaty of Rome.The new Treaty also straightens the role of the EP introducing the co-decision procedure (189b) characterised by a Conciliation Committee which can be convened at two different stages, and by three different readings by the Council and the Parliament. Finally, the Treaty introduces the Precautionary principle which transfers the burden of proof to the polluter even in the lack of enough proof to show that there is a link between the pollution source and its consequences on environment (before that the legislator had to show that there was a causality link). Back to (12)

(13) On 7 may 1990 the Council adopted a regulation (1210/90) on the establishment of the EEA. But it took three years before the seat of EEA was established in Copenhagen. because the EP wanted the EEA to have a central role in the Union environmental policy. Nevertheless, its expectations were frustrated; actually, the Commission did not support the idea of giving the Agency inspectorate functions since it wanted to defend its role in implementation and enforcement of EC legislation, as stated in the Treaties. Finally, the EP was successful in including, among the EEA tasks, the development of "uniform assessment criteria" for the measurement, recording and evaluation of data, and to produce reports on the quality of the Community environment. The Council also accepted to go over the enlargement of the Agency’s tasks within two years of the adoption of the regulation. Back to (13)

(14) Judge D. (1993), Predestined to save the Earth: the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, in A green dimension for the European Community: Political Issues and Processes, Frank Cass, 193. Back to (14)

(15) Marks et als, mentioned, pag. 366. The same article deals with the role played by the other institutions in the decision-making process. This aspect has been left out because this paper is concentrating on the EP. Back to (15)

(16) It is not surprising that the first environmental measures were passed during the ‘70s, in period of "crisis" for the Economic Community, but there is a twofold explanation for this. First of all in 1972 the UN held in Stockholm a conference on "Human Environment" which raised at world level the problem of environmental protection; under the pressures of three environmentally concerned member state, Federal Republic, Denmark and the Netherlands, the EC adopted the first action programme; besides, in that period of stagnation of integration in other areas, it was easier to take steps in a low politics issue. Back to (16)

(17) Collins K. and Earnshaw D. (1993), The Implementation and Enforcement of European Community Environment Legislation in Judge D. (ed) A Green Dimension for the European Community: Political Issues and Processes, Frank Cass, 247. Back to (17)

(18) Collins and Earnshaw (1993) provides a complete report of problems related to implementation. Back to (18)

(19) Schmitter Philippe C. (1996), Examining the Present Euro-Polity with the Help of Past Theories, in Marks G., Scharpf F.W., Schmitter P.C. and Streeck W., Governance in the European Union , SAGE Publications, 2. Back to (19)

 (20) Caporaso James (1996), The European Union and Forms of States: Westphalian, Regulatory or Post-Modern?, in "Journal of Common Market Studies", 34, 1, 39. Back to (20)



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© Copyright 1996. Jean Monnet Chair of European Comparative Politics.

Valentina Barbagallo, Ph.D in International Relations, University of Catania