Environmental Governance in Europe

Environmental Governance in Europe

A Comparative Analysis of New Environmental Policy Instruments

Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel, Anthony R. Zito and Andrew J. Jordan

European governance has witnessed dramatic changes in recent decades. By assessing the use of ‘new’ environmental policy instruments in European Union countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, this timely book analyses whether traditional forms of top-down government have given way to less hierarchical governance instruments, which rely strongly on societal self-steering and/or market forces. The authors provide important new theoretical insights as well as fresh empirical detail on why, and in what form, these instruments are being adopted within and across different levels of governance, along with analysis of the often-overlooked interactions between the instrument types.

Chapter 1: Environmental policy: from government to governance?

Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel, Anthony R. Zito and Andrew J. Jordan

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy, public policy


Since the 1990s there has been a huge upsurge in scholarly interest in governance and the new modes of governance with which it is associated. The governance ‘turn’ has produced a wide range of books (for example, Héritier and Rhodes, 2011a; Kooiman, 1993a, 2003; Rosenau and Czempiel, 1992), journal articles (for example, Rhodes, 1996; Héritier and Lehmkuhl, 2008; Risse and Lehmkuhl, 2007) and special issues of leading journals (for example, Lascoumes and Le Galés, 2007; Kassim and Le Galés, 2010; Schuppert and Zürn, 2008), as well as handbooks (Benz et al., 2007) and anthologies (for example, Bellamy and Palumbo, 2010). Schuppert (2008: 14) estimates that the use of the term govern- ance in scholarly publications rose by a factor of about 20 between 1990 and 2003 (see also Zürn, 2008: 553). For Palumbo (2010: xii) it ‘is another of those pivotal words endowed with a virus-like ability to spread across research fields in a remarkably short time’. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether there is anything important to say about governance that has not already been said. Our argument is that while governance is undoubtedly a term in good currency, the debate about its scope is often conducted at too high a level of abstraction. By descending the ‘ladder of abstraction’ (Sartori, 1970: 1040) to look at how governance plays out in relation to specific modes and instruments of governing, it is not only possible but important to say something new about governance.

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