50 Years of European Environmental Policy — Still Escaping from Deadlock?

I wrote a kind of “anniversary paper” that is now published in Environmental Policy and Governance, in which I look at the EU’s environmental policy record and examine how the policy area developed in the face of deadlock over the last fifty years. The paper argues that, at different times, different institutional exits have opened and closed that allowed environmental policy to escape from what has been called the “joint-decision trap” (Scharpf) or the “the law of the least ambitious programme” (Underdal). Against this conceptual backdrop, I also hypothesize that the increased heterogeneity after enlargement renders it harder to significantly improve the environmental policy record in the future. Methodologically, I look at legislative data and review a (large but necessarily incomplete) part of the huge stock of qualitative literature that is out there.