This chapter examines the engagement of the European Union (EU) 1 with sustainable development. Its focuses on the EU's involvement in the processes set in motion following the Brundtland Report, including the Rio Earth Summit and the regulatory, reporting, and monitoring regimes established as a result of UNCED.
EU environmental policy has to provide an effective and common response to the diverse range of environmental challenges that arise across its fifteen member-states, with their varying climatic, topographical, and geological features, as well as differences in population density, degree of urbanization, and economic development. It also has to take account of, and complement, the separate responses of member-states to their own environmental problems, while guarding against member-state use of environmental regulations and standards as trade barriers—a use which has the potential to hinder the development of the Single European Market (SEM) and thus the overall European integration process. Despite more than two decades of common