Environmental Federalism in the European Union and the United States
42 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2010 Last revised: 5 May 2010
Date Written: March 17, 2010
The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) are federal systems in which the responsibility for environmental policy-making is divided or shared between the central government and the (member) states. The attribution of decision-making power has important policy implications. This chapter compares the role of central and local authorities in the US and the EU in formulating environmental regulations in three areas: automotive emissions for health related (criteria) pollutants, packaging waste, and global climate change. Automotive emissions are relatively centralised in both political systems. In the cases of packaging waste and global climate change, regulatory policy-making is shared in the EU, but is primarily the responsibility of local governments in the US. Thus, in some important areas, regulatory policy-making is more centralised in the EU. The most important role local governments play in the regulatory process is to help diffuse stringent local standards through more centralised regulations, a dynamic which has become recently become more important in the EU than in the US.
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