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"Advocacy Coalitions and the 'Greening' of the Single European Act"

Brown, M. Leann. (1995) "Advocacy Coalitions and the 'Greening' of the Single European Act". In: UNSPECIFIED, Charleston, South Carolina. (Unpublished)

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    Before the promulgation of the 1987 Single European Act (SEA), the European Communities (EC) had undertaken three multi-year Environmental Action Programmes and generated more than 100 measures to coordinate and harmonize environmental protection. However, the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the legal basis for the organization, did not authorize joint action in the area of environmental protection. Pre-1987 environmental legislation was justified on the grounds that divergent environmental regulations in the Member States distorted trade competition and constituted a non-tariff barrier to free trade, and that the Treaty specified as objectives the promotion of "an accelerated raising of the standard of living" and the improvement of the living and working conditions of EC citizens. The SEA represented a seachange in the legal mandate of the organization in that it amended the Treaty of Rome to require that environmental protection be incorporated into every aspect of Community policy. Utilizing an advocacy coalition model, this paper aspires to describe and explain the policy stages, actors, and political interactions associated with the incorporation of environmental objectives into the EC's mission via the Single European Act. The activities of advocacy coalitions are examined during the agenda setting, policy option delineation, and decision making stages to ascertain the relative importance of policy ideas, national/power interests, institutional factors, and political interactions to explaining the "greening" of the SEA. The study concludes that although coalitional activities were not evident in processes that placed environmental provisions on the SEA agenda, they were important during the policy delineation and decision making stages. Environmental provisions were added to the agenda as a consequence of a process of policy evolution. All major participants agreed that the constitutionalization of the de facto functions was desirable. The Commission as a policy initiator and broker played the most significant role in placing environmental concerns on the SEA agenda. Once these concerns were on the agenda, the member states aligned themselves in coalitions on the basis of their positions on the specificity and stringency of the proposed legislation. "Green/clean” states feared that the legislation would require downward harmonization of their high national standards, while less environmentally-concerned states feared the economic costs of meeting strengthened EC regulations. In the end, the substantive content of the legislation was shaped by Commission-brokered compromise. The most contentious issues were "side-stepped" so that the overall initiative might move forward. All parties to the final decision making were eager that this "fringe" area bring positive incentives rather than confrontation to the SEA negotiations.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > historical development of EC (pre-1986)
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > lobbying/interest representation
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > environmental policy (including international arena)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 1995 (4th), May 11-14, 1995
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2008
    Number of Pages: 27
    Last Modified: 30 Jan 2016 13:08

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