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European Environmental Policies


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master EUS.


Over the past four decades, EU environmental policy has flourished from a humble and unlikely starting position of an ‘unofficial’ policy without a specific legal basis in the EU treaties, developed merely as a by-product of economic integration, to one of the ‘core’ areas of EU policy-making, which moreover must be ‘integrated’ into all the EU’s other policies.
Today, the environment is one of the most densely regulated EU policy fields and raises numerous questions, including as regards the efficiency of decision-making, implementation and enforcement practices, the quality and transparency of regulatory output and input, the effectiveness of the policy in improving the state of the environment in Europe, the legitimacy of regulatory activity in the EU multi-level context, and the role of the EU as a ‘green global leader’ in international environmental politics and global sustainable development.

Course objectives

This course has five main objectives, to be achieved through participatory learning:
Firstly, to familiarize students with the fundamental concepts that govern EU environmental policy and law – its main actors, procedures, and principles (incl. the precautionary principle); as well as to facilitate an understanding of how those concepts are transposed, applied and enforced in EU Member States’ legal orders; and to critically analyze strengths and weaknesses in this policy framework;
Secondly, to review the policy-making process in this exemplary policy field, through a general introduction and overview of the body of EU environmental instruments, as well as some more in-depth case studies of specific contemporary environmental policy areas (e.g. GMO foods, agri-biotechnology, and various fields covered in student presentations) which are of growing importance to the EU’s objective of attaining sustainable development, while also bearing significant implications for internal market trade and the EU’s global competitiveness position;
Thirdly, to situate EU environmental policy-making in the context of both national and international dynamics, including the inevitable trade and environment conflict within the EU and WTO, and to explore how the EU operates as a leader in the global political arena;
Fourthly, to develop a basic understanding of how environmental problems are constructed and framed, and how environmental issues can migrate back and forth across different jurisdictions, from local, to national, to European, even global; and
Finally, to strengthen students’ individual skills of critical analysis, academic research and presentation, and to build on collaborative learning skills and group debate.



Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Essay and presentation.


Yes, see the site.

Reading List

This course entails a relatively light reading load, with an emphasis on in class participation. A small selection of reading materials (max. 1 or 2 short chapters/articles) will be prescribed for each tutorial, merely to prepare students for in class comprehension and to ensure active participation.
Reading materials will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course, to ensure up-to-date course content and reading materials on contemporary developments in EU environmental policy.


Via uSis
See also: registration and admission requirements for the Master EUS

Contact Information

Dr. T. Etty