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Informal Governance in the European Union

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Simona Piattoni

This book addresses an issue of paramount importance concerning the politics of the European Union: aspects of governance and policy making in the EU that are labelled ‘informal’. Much of the literature on the EU focuses on the formal facets of EU politics, but uniquely, the subject matter within this book deals with informal aspects such as: the role of personal relationships, the presence of non-hierarchical policy-networks and non-institutional channels of interest representation, and the relevance of the unwritten rules and routines which govern these aspects of EU politics.
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Chapter 6: The informal governance of EU environmental policy: the case of biodiversity protection

Jenny Fairbrass and Andrew Jordan


Jenny Fairbrass and Andrew Jordan INTRODUCTION Approximately 50 years ago, when treaties were signed that established the European Union (EU) none of them contained articles that were specifically concerned with the environment. A few provisions were directed primarily towards human health and safety at work but these hardly amounted to an environmental policy. It was not until the signing and ratification of the 1987 Single European Act (SEA) that environmental policy achieved formal recognition as part of the EU’s legal framework. However, the absence of a formal legal basis did not prevent the adoption of the first Community law on the environment during the 1960s and the approval of the First Environmental Action Programme in the early 1970s. Remarkably, well before the mid1980s, creative use of certain Articles in the 1957 Treaty of Rome (especially Article 235) had facilitated the accretion of a substantial body of environmental policy. As a consequence, over the course of five decades, environmental policy has become one of the EU’s most dynamic, extensive and mature areas of competence. It ranges across issues as varied as chemicals and waste management, air and water quality, climate change, and natural resource management. Potentially, it is one of the most fundamental and all-encompassing of the EU’s policies, especially since the renewed efforts at environmental policy integration,1 the so-called Cardiff process, following the Cardiff summit in June 1998. Clearly, it impacts on, and is affected by, many other major EU policy areas, including industry, agriculture, transport, energy and regional...

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