EU External Environmental Policy

Europa Institute Conference

External Environmental Policy of the European Union

The Europa Institute hosted a one-and-a-half-day workshop on 4-5 February 2011, bringing together academics specialising in international and EU law, practitioners from the European Commission and the UK Government, as well as PhD and LLM students, to exchange views on the environmental dimensions of the EU external relations following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The event was funded by the Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence of the Europa Institute, the UN Environment Programme-funded project on Environment and Human Rights (hosted by the Scottish Centre of International Law) and Edinburgh Law School.

The workshop was divided into three sessions, looking at: the legal and institutional framework for the EU’s external action and its implications for the EU external environmental policy; EU practice in relation to environmental protection at the unilateral, bilateral, inter-regional and multilateral levels; and the linkages between the EU’s environmental law and international environmental law.

Prof Marise Cremona (Professor of EU Law, European University Institute) opened the first session with an in-depth analysis of the rules and principles underpinning the concept of coherence in the EU external action, focusing on its meaning and implications in the specific context of the EU external environmental policy. Dr Chad Damro (Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh) outlined the institutional set-up for EU external action emerging from the Treaty of Lisbon, including how the new arrangements may affect the EU’s leadership in international environmental negotiations. Matthias Buck (European Commission) shared insights regarding the changes introduced, and challenges posed, by the post-Lisbon legal framework for the EU’s representation in multilateral environmental negotiations. Jolyon Thomson (UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) offered an assessment of this new framework from a Member State perspective.

The second session turned to an analysis of the EU practice, beginning with an appraisal by Dr Gracia Marín Durán (Lecturer in International Law, University of Edinburgh) of the extent to which environmental protection requirements have been integrated – as mandated by Article 11 TFEU – into the EU's bilateral and inter-regional association agreements concluded pre-Lisbon. Rok Zvelc (European Commission) provided an insider’s evaluation of the legal tools put in place by the EU to ensure mutual supportiveness between trade and the environment in the EU’s external relations. Dr Kati Kulovesi (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Eastern Finland) concentrated on climate change as the most prominent area of EU external environmental action, assessing the impacts of the highly legalised and institutionalised approach deployed by the EU in the ongoing negotiations on a post-2012 international climate change regime. Dr Daniel Augenstein (Assistant Professor, University of Tilburg) added a human rights perspective to the discussions, identifying synergies between human rights and environmental protection and reflecting on the possible implications that could derive from the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The third and final session of the workshop explored the interactions between the EU external environmental action and international environmental law. Dr Elisa Morgera (Lecturer in European Environmental Law, University of Edinburgh) explained how the EU has been increasingly using its unilateral, bilateral and inter-regional external relations tools to actively support environmental multilateralism, with a view to facilitating the implementation of existing treaties, building alliances in the context of ongoing multilateral environmental negotiations, or conversely, building consensus in the absence of such negotiations. Prof André Nollkaemper (Professor of Public International Law, University of Amsterdam) reflected on the manifestations and consequences of the Europeanisation of international environmental law, focusing on the international responsibility of the EU and/or its Member States towards third state parties to international environmental agreements. Prof Riccardo Pavoni (Associate Professor of International Law, University of Siena) focused instead on the internationalisation of EU environmental law, assessing the influence of international environmental principles and treaties on the development and operation of EU environmental law.

The workshop proceedings were elaborated and published in an edited collection, under the guidance of Dr Elisa Morgera as: The External Environmental Policy of the European Union: EU and International Law Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2012).