A transnational history of European Environmental Law
This research project seeks to provide the first transnational history of European Environmental Law from its inception in the early 1970s until the 1990s, when the environment and environmental law became more firmly established within the European Union (EU). At the time, the EU asserted itself as a prominent player in making international environmental law. Furthermore, with the new focus on sustainability and climate change, the EU embraced a new agenda and experimented with new legal instruments, such as emissions trading, with important implications until the present.
The transnational perspective is key to this research, and it is related to the core argument: European Environmental Law was shaped by a diversity of national, European and international actors, including legal and scientific experts and societal groups. These actors cooperated transnationally in shaping this new body of European law, through scholarship, legislation and jurisdiction. The core hypothesis is that, given the novelty of environmental law, European lawmakers, notably the European Commission, was particularly open to the involvement of a variety of actors. European lawmakers borrowed liberally from existing precedent (from the international and national levels, or experts’ debates) to achieve suitable legal solutions. To what extent this changed, or was even reversed in the 1990s, when the Commission started to export its legal principles in the making of international environmental conventions, is a key question in this history.