Analyzing the 'Leader-Laggard' Dynamic in the Context of EU Environmental Policy: A Federal Perspective
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To pursue publication of the research
This thesis aims to explain and analyze the policy dynamics behind implementation patterns in multi-level policy settings using the EU as an example. It does so by examining the implementation of EU environmental policy in member states in light of the recent economic crisis. The analysis of implementation patterns in the EU seeks to provide an updated approach and an in-depth understanding of the ‘leader-laggard’ dynamic, namely the distinction between those states that are ‘frontrunners’ and ‘laggards’ in their environmental policy performance. The key issue captured is the various regulatory trends and policy outcomes at the EU level in terms of implementation performance. Two case studies one of a reputed ‘leader’ (UK) and one of traditional ‘laggard’ (Greece) are employed to better define and interpret this dynamic in practice. In this analysis, the use of federal theory as the main theoretical framework is very crucial for a contemporary theorization of implementation in the EU as a multi-level polity. Having the advantage that it is not dependent on a state-centric ontology, federalism provides an understanding of multi-level political relationships that are neither purely domestic nor purely international. Drawing on this analysis, the main findings show that the impact of economic crisis on environmental policy implementation was dependent on the economic level in member states, i.e. the less wealthy Southern member states performed worse than the richer Northern states. Moreover, there has been strong pressure in many states to relax environmental standards in the name of growth. A closer look at the case studies demonstrates that the issue of cost is very important. In this light, the pro-growth agenda is dominant considering the government priorities of the UK and Greece. Besides these factors, the better economic position, the well-functioning public administration, the strong administrative and institutional capacity of the state also allow the UK to better implement EU environmental policy in comparison to Greece. In this regard, the use of federal theory captures the importance of domestic political context in the implementation of EU environmental policy.
PhD in Politics