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 9: Out with the ‘old’ and in with the ‘new’? Governing with policy instruments

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


We began Chapter 1 by arguing that, while there has been a huge upsurge in governance studies, most have remained ‘over-theorised’ and ‘under- empiricised’. In contrast, much of the policy instrument literature that has emerged since the 1970s has tended to be ‘under-theorised’ and ‘over- empiricised’. In this book we have tried to fit these two literatures together in ways that seek to directly inform and benefit both. Throughout, we have used policy instruments as empirical touchstones for scrutinising the claim, which has been widely made in the governance literature (for example, Rhodes, 1996), that top-down hierarchical government has increasingly given way to self-steering horizontal governance. In the policy instruments literature, the associated debate concerns the extent to which ‘new’ instruments have replaced the ‘old’ instrument of regulation. We have sought to inform both debates by critically assessing the adoption and subsequent use of both ‘old’ and ‘new’ environmental policy instruments in five European jurisdictions – Austria, Germany, the Nether- lands and the UK as well as the EU – from the early 1970s to the early 2010s. Adhering to Sabatier’s (1999) recommendation to study public policy over a long time period (in our case over four decades) has enabled us both to analyse how particular instruments have evolved over time, and also how the overall mix of instruments has changed. It has permitted us to draw cross-jurisdictional, cross-sectoral and cross-temporal comparisons of the adoption and use of policy instruments in Europe that were absent from the existing literatures (see in particular Chapter 8).

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