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A European Leap? The History of EC/EU Environmental Policy, 1980-2000 (ELEMENT)

Prof. Dr. Kiran Klaus Patel / Prof. Dr. Laurent Warlouzet

The European Union (EU) is nowadays often regarded as a global regulatory leader when it comes to environmental policy-making. Even though the European Communities (EC), as the EU's predecessor, were at first conceived as laggard in this field, rather reacting to other states' (e.g. United States) and International Organisations' (e.g. UN, OECD) initiatives than setting the tone, it developed to become an important player over time. However, a linear and simplistic narrative of this process neglects difficulties, the importance of transnational exchanges and multi-layered actor constellations as well as detrimental and conflicting developments. By combining the research fields of European integration history, environmental history and social science research on EC/EU environmental policy, the project ELEMENT aims at providing the first comprehensive, historically grounded, long-term analysis of the drivers and reasons for the EC/EU’s acquisition of a key role in environmental policy-making, as well as the limits of its position. Three overarching questions concerning the relations between the EC and its Member States, the change of governance techniques and the EC's/EU's global position will be addressed.

ELEMENT is constituted by a French and German team, based at the Université Sorbonne and LMU Munich respectively, each studying two central policy fields of environmental protection. These four complementary case studies concentrate on a wide range of actors including four main governments (Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands) for the period from roughly 1980 to 2000. The Franco-German cooperation will add another layer of transnationality to the topic and serves as a powerful bridge between two leading research universities. This cooperative research project is led by Kiran Klaus Patel (LMU Munich) and Laurent Warlouzet (Université Sorbonne) and funded by ANR and DFG.