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Governing Despite its Instruments? Instrumentation in EU Environmental Policy

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Demonstrating how the political sociology approach to policy instruments generates new insights even in densely studied areas, this article investigates the evolution of policy instruments and the link between policy instruments and policy change in EU environmental policy over the past three decades. Examination of the politics of choice and combination of policy instruments reveals, first, that EU environmental policy is primarily structured by its instruments. Second, the article argues that, contrary to those in the literature who have claimed a pioneering role for the Union in this field, EU environmental policy is populated not by new or innovative policy instruments, but by instruments mainly derived from the member states or other international organisations. Third, it argues that the EU's tendency to import measures from elsewhere explains the apparent contradiction between the EU's policy activism, on the one hand, and the modest domestic impact of EU legislation, on the other.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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