Sophie Schmitt, Kai Schulze
Choosing environmental policy instruments: An assessment of the ‘environmental dimension’ of EU energy policy

European Integration online Papers (EIoP). 2011.

Although they have formerly constituted distinct traditions in the European integration process, EU regulatory activities in environmental and energy policy have now become highly interwoven. Environmental concerns increasingly influence the formulation of the EU’s energy policy, especially given the twofold challenge of securing sufficient energy supply whilst also addressing the necessity of combating climate change. In this context, a key question is, how exactly does the EU approach environmental policy objectives as part of its energy policy? Is the ‘environmental dimension’ of EU energy policy subject to a different regulatory approach than EU environmental policy in general? This paper addresses these questions from a neo-functionalist perspective by comparing the different types of policy instruments adopted by the EU in the two interrelated areas over the past four decades. Overall, this work finds that the EU continues to rely heavily on traditional command and control regulation in the context of air pollution control, whereas the environmental dimension of EU energy policy is frequently controlled by new, less interventionist forms of governance.