Environmental policy is a highly Europeanised area. Especially since the late 1980s, there has been an impressive widening and deepening of European policy competencies (Weale 1996). The Single European Act (in force since 1987) brought environmental policy into the EEC Treaty framework, while the Maastricht and the Amsterdam treaties (in force since 1993 and 1999 respectively) further strengthened the Community’s involvement in this area. Although the implementation of EU environmental policy is primarily the responsibility of national authorities, the constant expansion of the Community’s role in this policy area has led scholars to argue that ‘the Community is already a federal state’ (Vogel 1993).
As Majone (1993) notes , the development of EU environmental policy is a typical case of the regulatory social policy used by the Community in ‘quality of life issues’ and is designed to curb negative externalities emerging from market integration. Its explicit aim is to replace domestic regulatory arrangements. Thus, it entails the reshaping of extant domestic arrangements and provisions. Therefore, it can be construed as an expression of positive integration (Knill and Lehmkuhl 1999).
This policy relies primarily on EU legislation (directives) addressed to the Member States whose domestic legal and institutional systems must adapt to the requirements of this policy. Therefore, the question of implementation becomes the crucial test for understanding the process of Europeanisation in this policy area. The analysis of the implementation of EU environmental policy in the Member States involves a discussion of the techniques and tools used for the transposition of Community rules into the domestic legal order as well as the actual implementation process, that is the broader adjustments brought to dominant regulatory styles and structures by the European principles and rules (Snyder 1993b). This chapter focuses on the latter issue.
Existing literature demonstrates that the implementation of EU environmental policy has led to substantial changes in the domestic policies of the Member States. Such changes affect the domestic policy style and instruments.