The durability–flexibility dialectic: The evolution of decarbonisation policies in the European Union

Andrew J. Jordan, Brendan Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Policy makers are under political pressure to adopt policies that achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Reaching net zero is a demanding challenge requiring durable policies that last; that is, withstand short-term turbulence. However, there is a lack of clarity in the existing literature on both the conceptual meaning of policy durability and its empirical manifestations. This paper distinguishes between three central dimensions of policy durability and uses them to shed new light on the long-term evolution of EU climate policy. It reveals that the EU has addressed the relationship between policy durability and policy flexibility by working iteratively across and between different policy elements (instruments, programmes, goals, etc.). In revealing these patterns, it addresses a greatly neglected feature of policy design processes: the dialectical relationship between durability and flexibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-444
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number3
Early online date6 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Climate change
  • decarbonisation
  • net zero
  • policy durability
  • policy flexibility

Cite this