Is European Parliament an Environmental Champion?

Dr Charlotte Burns and Dr Neil Carter have been awarded over £92,000 by the Economic and Social Research Council (award no. RES-000-22-2304) for this project examining the environmental record of the European Parliament.

The European Union plays a leading role advancing international environmental cooperation and is the major source of environmental legislation in all its member states, with around 70-80% of UK environmental legislation emanating from Brussels. The European Parliament has enormous potential to shape the direction and content of national environmental policies, particularly since the introduction of codecision in 1993, a procedure giving it more influence in the legislative process. As the one directly elected EU body it is significant that the European Parliament is widely regarded as being the ‘greenest’, of the EU’s institutions. The EP has long been regarded as a positive force for environmental change in the EU: it ‘often sees itself and is seen by others, as the defender of environmental interests’ (Weale et al., 2000, p.91). Yet this claim has never been subjected to detailed scrutiny.

The aim of this project is test the proposition that the European Parliament is an environmental champion. Up to 90 pieces of environmental legislation passed between 1993 and 2007 will be analysed. Using an original classification already developed by the applicants, amendments to legislative proposals will be categorised according to their importance and environmental impact. The aim of the analysis is to determine whether the EP’s attitude to environmental legislation has changed over time and to discover the best explanations for its behaviour.