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Policy Recycling? The External Effects of EU Environmental Legislation on the United States

maandag, 6 februari, 2012 - 16:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculteit: Social Sciences and Solvay Business School
Karel Van Miert
Conference Rooms Rome/Lisbon
Katje Biedenkopf

Can the European Union influence environmental policy beyond its borders? This dissertation
investigates whether, how and with what result EU environmental policy exerts external effects on the US
in the absence of mutually negotiated transatlantic treaties or explicitly coercive measures imposed by the
EU on the US. The analysis demonstrates that through the introduction of ambitious and pioneering
policy, the EU can contribute to policy-making in non-EU jurisdictions. European Union environmental
policy can affect policies, politics and policy problems in jurisdictions outside the EU.

The investigation focuses on EU legislation that aims to minimise the environmental and health impact of
waste electronics (e-waste). It presents an in-depth study of EU external effects on the United State at the
federal and state level. The analysis shows that the EU affected US policies, politics and policy problems
through three different mechanisms – learning, emulation and adjustment. The resulting US e-waste
policy output varies, can, in addition to the mechanisms, be explained by three groups of factors specific
to each individual jurisdiction. These factor groups are the politics, the institutions and the policy problem.

The empirical analysis strongly confirms that EU environmental policy can have external effects on policy
beyond EU borders without negotiating or coercing extra-EU policy change. External effects can be found
at multiple levels of governance and include not only laws but also measures such as industrial standards
and non-legislative programmes. While external effects through learning, emulation and adjustment are
less steerable and influenceable by the EU than bilateral negotiation or coercive measures, they can
nevertheless be considered a distinct and important mode of EU external governance. In an international
environment in which binding agreements are difficult to achieve leadership through pioneering policy can
be an important tool.

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