International Organizations and Environmental Policy

By Robert V. Bartlett; Priya A. Kurian et al. | Go to book overview

countries. The EEB was founded in 1974 with the active encouragement of the European Commission ( Daltrop, 1986: 111) as a conduit for the representation of environmental interest groups to the community, particularly the European Commission. By 1991 the EEB represented 120 national environmental groups with a combined membership of 20 million ( Hagland, 1991). While it enjoys much support among groups, it has suffered consistently from financial problems. Haigh ( 1990) notes the difficulties emerging from an internal debate about the functions of the EEB: whether it should serve the needs of its members or carry out independent lobbying.

Partly because of the limited utility of the EEB, and partly because of the new realization of the importance of the union as a policy-making institution, environmental groups have opened new offices in Brussels, which has in turn tended to undermine the ability of the EEB to speak on behalf of union environmental groups. Despite this, the bureau is still important as an umbrella group, and Baldock ( 1989) and Lowe ( 1989-90) see a long-term tendency toward the creation of more European networks of organizations, at both the voluntary and statutory levels.


CONCLUSIONS

At a time when Eurosceptics point to the problems that the European Union is facing in adopting common economic and foreign policies, it is often forgotten that the European Union has successfully proceeded with policy integration in a number of areas. Among the most successful of these has been the environment. Membership in the EU has had a substantial effect on how environmental policy is made and implemented in the fifteen member states and has led to a significant improvement in the breadth and depth of environmental regulation.

The changes to domestic policy in the member states come at a time when it is increasingly recognized by policymakers that economic development and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually supportive. The drive toward economic integration and the single market in the EU has given a new prominence to the importance of rational environmental policies and has shown how the removal of trade barriers between countries can happen only if environmental standards are harmonized.

By reducing the disparities between "lead and lag" nations, economic and political integration has brought about improvements in environmental management and quality more quickly than might otherwise have been the case, and has compelled EU member states to agree to common environmental regulations. The drive to integrate economic and agricultural policies has raised the need to harmonize environmental regulations in order to reduce the technical barriers to integration; this has been a clear example of functional and technical

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