Chapter 4: From frontrunner to laggard: the Netherlands and Europeanization in the cases of RES-E and biofuel stimulation
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The Netherlands has long cherished its reputation of compliance with European Union (EU) policies and directives, often playing an initiating role. However, the progressive environmental policies of the 1990s were replaced by restrictive policies of right-wing government coalitions, which came into power after 2001, and by 2013 the Netherlands had become a laggard in environmental policy. This chapter reflects on how this occurred, set against Europeanization processes. The main research question is: ‘How did Europeanization processes shape the development of Dutch renewable energy policy, and how did this in turn affect EU renewable energy policymaking?’ The authors answer this research question by analysing two case studies: (1) renewable sources for electricity (RES-E); and (2) biofuels. Their findings reveal that RES-E and biofuels were not prioritized in Dutch energy policies. Moreover, policies to support the two have been far from consistent. In both the RES-E and biofuel cases, all three forms of Europeanization were observed, although some (top-down and bottom-up Europeanization) were more commonly encountered than others (horizontal Europeanization). Regarding top-down Europeanization, national implementation of the directives led to amendments of national regulatory frameworks and the development of support schemes. Horizontal Europeanization occurred more explicitly in the RES-E case than the biofuels case. Bottom-up Europeanization took place in two ways. Firstly, the Netherlands pushed for and succeeded in ‘uploading’ policies and standards to the EU. Secondly, the Netherlands tried and succeeded in lowering targets that had been allocated to the country by the EU. Keywords: biofuels policy, Europeanization, Netherlands, renewable electricity policy, renewable energy policy

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