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Climate change and the EU: hard problems, soft policies

a case study on the Europe 202020 goals

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Climate change and the EU: hard problems, soft policies

a case study on the Europe 202020 goals

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

In this dissertation, the European Commission's selection process of policy instruments to tackle climate change has been reviewed, with the main focus on understanding what internal factors have influenced the Commission in this process and how this has led to the implementation of soft policy instruments. The period after the SEA (1987) until now has been reviewed in light of the historical institutionalism approach. Despite this theoretical support, an interview with the European Climate Foundation as well as desk research has been done. Finally, in order to draw a valid conclusion on the influential factors, literature as well as a case study on the Europe 202020 goals has been reviewed and compared.

First, the Commission is path dependent due to the climate change policy framework in which it has to operate that has been established after the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, the Commission has struggled with MS not complying to binding policies since the 1990s. The Commission has the responsibility to propose policies as well as to ensure implementation and it reveals that it has a hard time combining both responsibilities. But, it is not able to propose only hard policy instruments that are rather radical, because then it will face problems with MS being opposed as well as it will not match with the EU being strongly trade-biased. Overall, the Commission has found his way by implementing directives. Herewith it combines binding targets while MS are free to decide upon how to achieve that target within a specific time period. Yet, as the case study revealed that directives are also being revised due to unintended consequences, such as the economic recession (2008). The crisis just bit as the EU reached point of accepting that mitigating climate change was a crucial priority and one on which the EU could provide. Moreover, the case study showed that that trade has been combined with environmental protection in the last couple of years. Environmental protection is not the starting point as it seems less important than trade although the Lisbon Treaty did put environmental issues separately from other issues. However, neither the EU-enlargement nor the recession has caused the EU to withdraw from its responsibilities and promises to tackle climate change because MS, EU actors and industries have been compromising. Although some are pointing to the fact that hard regulation is needed to make soft regulation work, MS are standing back from far-reaching commitments as they prefer short-term and less binding agreements. The Commission has to take into account that the EU's economic situation should not be harmed by its proposals, has to look at the situation of MS as they are responsible of the implementation part and has to make progress when time is ticking by and environmental catastrophes will not wait. Thus, path dependency determines the Commission's decision to implement soft policy instruments. It can be concluded that decisions are not made rationally, as rational choices are impeded by economic desires, priorities and unintended consequences.

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OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2013
TypeBachelorscriptie
TaalEngels

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