Eu Environment Policy

Topics: European Union, European Economic Community, Council of the European Union Pages: 9 (1462 words) Published: April 7, 2013
Environmental Policy

Environmental policy is one of the success stories of the European Union (EU). At its founding in 1957, the European Community had no environmental dimension, but today it has some of the most progressive environmental policies in the world.  It is a relatively recent policy of the EU, only gaining treaty recognition in 1986 with the adoption of the Single European Act (Wallace, Wallace & Packard, 2005). In recent years environmental policy making has become a central goal for the EU. This briefing note will look at the actors involved in the policy making process both at an EU and Irish level. Please refer to the diagram on page 10 “The Policy Process at EU level” to see how the policy is passed.

The European Council

• Comprises of heads of member states

• Provides strategic direction and general political guidance (IEEP, 2010)

• Is not empowered to exercise any legislative functions (IEEP, 2010)

• Environmental policy must be in line with overall goals of the Council

The European Commission

• Comprises of 27 Commissioners, one from each member state, each commissioner is assigned responsibility for a specific policy (Europa, 2011)

• Upholds the common interest of the EU (Europa ,2011)

• The only institution that can table a formal legislative proposal. It initiates proposals for policies and plays an active role in the formulation stage (Wallace et al)

• Responsible for the implementation and protection of the policies once they have been formed

• The current Commissioner for the Environment is Janez Potočnik (Europa, 2011)

Commission Directorate General:

• Commission is assisted by a civil service made up of 46 directorates-general (DGs) and services (Europa, 2011)

• The DG Environment’s initiates and defines new environmental legislation. During the early stages of policy formulation DG ENV carries the main responsibility; it also depends on the support of other DGs before any policy proposal can be passed to the Council and the Parliament for consideration (Wallace et al).

• The DG Environment is headed by Director General Karl Falkenberg (European Union, 2010)

DGs with particular relevance to the environment are:

• DG Environment
• DG Climate Action
• DG Agriculture and Rural Development
• DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
• DG Regional Policy
• DG Research
• DG Mobility and Transport
• DG Energy
(IEEP, 2011)

The Council of Ministers

• When discussing the environment it comprises of one minister from each member state, each of whom is responsible for the Environment in their home country

• A segregated, legislative body which, together with the European Parliament's Environment Committee, considers and decides whether or not to accept environmental policies proposed by the Commission (Europa, 2011).

• Environmental decisions are reached by qualified majority voting – 73.9% (Europa, 2011)

European Parliament Committee:

• Has decision-making power when it comes to forming policies. The co-decision procedure applies to environmental policy – making the Parliament the equal partner of the Council, a joint decision is required (Europa 2011). • Although the Parliament and Council can try to initiate the process, for example through own-initiative reports or Presidency conclusions, the formal right of initiative remains with the Commission (IEEP, 2011).

• The preparatory work for Parliament’s plenary sessions is carried out in 20 specialized standing committees of MEPs. Committees of special interest to the environment include: o Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

o Agriculture and Rural Development
o Fisheries
o Regional Development
o Transport and Tourism
o Industry, Research and Energy
o Budgets...
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