The Future of EU Environmental Policy: Challenges & Opportunities

Sirini Withana, David Baldock, Brendan Coolsaet, Axel Volkery

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


EU environmental policy is facing a new and challenging context. The current economic and financial preoccupations in Europe are unlikely to fade away quickly. It is difficult to forecast when instabilities in financial markets, uncertainties over economic and job prospects and pressure to maintain austerity regimes will end. The crisis in the Eurozone has led to bigger questions concerning the role of regulation and aspects of the EU project itself; particularly but not exclusively in the UK where political tensions have been brought to the fore in recent months. Details of a new inter-governmental agreement on the economic governance of the Eurozone are currently being negotiated. Most existing EU policies, including those concerning the environment, are not likely to be affected by this agreement. However, the political repercussions and dynamics of the new economic governance structure are yet to unfold and may spread beyond the arenas of fiscal and budgetary policy. For these reasons, conditions for the further development of a proactive EU environmental policy may not look favorable. Nonetheless, several environmental challenges call for a response as a matter of urgency, both within Europe and on a global scale. Many of these issues need to be addressed at a European level and there is a clear link to the single market as well as the ecological integrity of the continent. The current economic situation also offers a number of opportunities for promoting the environmental policy agenda, particularly in view of fostering an efficiency revolution. It has given an impetus to concepts such as the green economy, green growth, resource efficiency etc., which are increasingly reflected in mainstream political discourse both in the EU and domestically. Thus, even in a period of economic recession and political upheaval, the environmental perspective should remain a cornerstone of strategies for the future economy.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyAll-Party Parliamentary Environment Group
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • EU
  • Environmental policy
  • All-Party Parliamentary Environment Group
  • Eurocrisis
  • Opportunities

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