Environmental Policy 'Outside-In': How the EU's Engagement with International Environmental Law Curtails National Autonomy

German Law Journal 13:11

26 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2012

See all articles by Christina Eckes

Christina Eckes

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Date Written: 2012


The EU legal system, with its many hands and complex architecture, in which national and European powers are closely interwoven, requires a particular form of cooperation. This delicately developed cooperation may be influenced by the EU’s ambition to take a state-like role in international relations. Indeed, the basic underlying this Article is that it is not only the EU’s complexity that influences the EU’s external actions - usually seen as limiting the EU’s capacity to speak with one voice - but also that the EU’s external actions influence its internal set-up and cooperation practices. As a result of the EU’s participation in international legal regimes, established organizational principles might come under pressure. Furthermore, within the complexity of the European legal order, the potential consequences could be more disturbing for stability than within the - monolithic, in comparison - structure of states.

The aim of this Article is to shed light on how the EU’s participation in emerging international legal regimes influences the making and interpretation of EU law and, more importantly, whether and how this in turn changes the power division between the EU and its Member States (“outside-in” effects). Part of the EU’s presence as an international actor is its participation in international environmental regimes which, for two reasons, appears particularly prone to have implications for the power division within the EU. First, the European Union has established itself as an independent actor alongside the Member States in the area of environmental policy. It has taken a leading role in global environmental negotiations, and most recent environmental legal regimes provide for the possibility of EU accession. Second, in the past fifteen years we can witness an internationalization of environmental law and policy: Environmental law is increasingly constructed through participation in detailed international environmental rule-making, such as the Aarhus Convention or the Kyoto Protocol.

Keywords: EU law, environmental law, external relations, Aarhus Convention, PFOS, competences

Suggested Citation

Eckes, Christina, Environmental Policy 'Outside-In': How the EU's Engagement with International Environmental Law Curtails National Autonomy (2012). German Law Journal 13:11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2191596

Christina Eckes (Contact Author)

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance ( email )

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
1012 CN Amsterdam

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