N° 33, 2011/1 – European Integration and the Environment: The Case of France


edited by Nathalie Berny, 2011/1 (n°33)


Nathalie Berny – European Integration and the Environment: How Green Is the EU?

The environmental policy of the European Union is a key domain for the analysis of European integration processes. However, existing studies on the subject, notably those concerned with Europeanization, stress different impacts. Not only has European environmental policy varied in its impacts across Member States, but its level of integration differs from one environmental issue to another. This special issue reexamines the scope of the EU’s environmental policy. It focuses on three themes that are crucial to debates on the greening of the EU and on the significance of policy developments, namely actor strategies, institutional factors, and the structuring of environmental issues. The papers presented here address all three themes by focusing on the French case and offer perspectives that are innovative on both conceptual and methodological grounds. Each develops an original analysis, drawing mainly on public policy studies and sociological approaches. Taken as a whole, this special issue offers alternative research strategies for the study of environmental policy in the EU.


Olivier Notte, Denis Salles – Involving Citizens as Water Policy Monitors: The European Water Framework Directive Consultation Process in Adour-Garonne

The implementation of public consultation proceedings required by the European Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000/60/EC), could renew water regimes in Europe along principles of transparency, accountability, and efficiency. We argue that such consultative proceedings could empower citizens as part of water policy making and assessment and could weaken the corporatist and statist forms of management responsible for the deficient implementation of previous environmental laws. The investigation led to two periods of consultation in the Adour-Garonne water catchment area in 2005 and 2008. This investigation allows us to observe the steps in the construction and justification of new features of public consultation and focuses on the effects on water policy of such consultation.


Matthieu Ansaloni – Political Control and Europeanization: How Does French Agri-environmental Policy Face Up to Policy Evaluations?

In this article we examine whether the monitoring of member states policies by the European commission is leading to greater Europeanization. With this objective in mind, we consider the processes of implementation of Agri-Environmental Measures (AEMs) in France. The European requirements for AEM evaluation have been progressively tightened. We analyse this change as an institutional transfer. First we consider its social and political processes, then its impact on the domestic debate and on the policies related to agri-environmental issues. Finally we examine the democratic legitimacy of this impact.


Charlotte Halpern – The EU as a Source of Instrumental Innovation: Logics of Instrumentation in French Environmental Policy (1971–2006)

Challenging the existing literature, this article questions the role of the EU in the development of the French environmental policy. Drawing on an original dataset, it examines the evolution of French environmental policy instruments, over the past three decades (1971-2006), and considers how and by whom they were chosen and combined. This approach suggests that the role of the EU as a source for instrumental innovation remains marginal. This result contributes to current debates on policy change in the French environmental policy domain and to the understanding of processes of Europeanization in domestic policies.


Yannick Rumpala – From the Objective of Sustainable Development to the Governmentalization of Change: Expressions and Effects of a Renewed Institutional Concern in France and the European Union

The objective of sustainable development contains a form of transformative ambition that, faced with the global risks it highlights, has tended to change the status of collective purpose that would need to be taken on and be accompanied by appropriate institutions. Based on government activities that have begun to implement this goal, this paper aims to analyze how rationales, instruments, and procedural arrangements are being assembled and are helping to make the management of change a renewed challenge in the institutional sphere. To understand its logics and orientations, this process of governmentalization of change is studied based on the initiatives of public authorities in France and the European Union, examining this interpretation of change as a problem in terms of the range of programmatic and instrumental by-products that take the form of documents labeled as “strategies and the procedural foundations that are beginning to provide support.


Joseph Szarka – Climate policy in France: between national interest and global solidarity?

This article investigates the evolving relationships between national interests and the global solidarity principles emerging from the 1992 UNFCCC. It argues that France developed a distinctive climate policy template, which allowed modest but significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. However, faced with heightened climate challenges, policy elites in the 2000s hesitated between focusing on long-standing national interests and rescuing the policy template, or responding to global solidarity principles and substantially revising it. The article concludes that ambitious policy measures were proposed but not implemented due to the persistence of a construal of national interest in terms of short-term economic competitiveness, but also because of the underdevelopment of the international climate regime between the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.


Jean-Noël Jouzel, Pierre Lascoumes – The REACH Regulation as a European Policy for the Uncertain: The Building of an Indirect Policy-Making Process for Chemical Hazards

Over the last century, the chemical industry has synthesized and commercialized over 100,000 chemicals with no pre-market authorization. The effects of these chemicals on human health therefore remain largely unknown. This paper analyzes the political strategies that have aimed at controlling these chemicals over the past 50 years, and casts light on differences between Europe and the United States. It characterizes the political process that resulted in the adoption of the REACH regulation in December 2006 following intense controversies and negotiations. This regulation is not a true innovation. Rather, it derived from political processes rooted in European policies. However, REACH implies a number of changes linked to the integration of the Precautionary Principle into environmental policies. In particular, it induces a shift in the burden of proof from governmental bodies to industrial firms regarding the identification and assessment of dangerous chemicals. However, this shift is far from resolving all of the issues surrounding the implementation of the REACH regulation or from reducing all the uncertainties linked to the industrial use of chemicals.




Mathieu Petithomme – The Absence of Conflict of Political Debates on the EU in National Newspapers: A Quantitative Comparative Content Analysis of the French, British, Irish, and Spanish Cases (2005–2006)

On the basis of comparative quantitative content analysis, this paper deals with the main modalities of appropriation and the dominant actors in the political debates on Europe in national newspapers in France, Great Britain, Ireland, and Spain between 2005 and 2006. It focuses on the paradoxes of party-based communication, developing the hypothesis of the absorption of European issues within established cleavages through the nationalization and the presidentialization of political debates. As transcribed by national presses, these debates foster domestic perspectives and the low visibility of the European level while reinforcing power asymmetries between actors in terms of their capability to ensure representation and visibility for their perspectives, a process that forges exchanges structured mainly through an uncontentious modality.


Areas of Research


Nicolas Azam – The French Communist Party and European Integration (1970 to Date)


Comparative Readings


Julien Weisbein – Towards a Pragmatic Sociology of the European Union


Critical Readings


Charlotte Halpern – Herwig Reynaert, Kristof Steyvers , Pascal Delwit, and Jean-Benoit Pilet, eds. 2009. Local Political Leadership in Europe: Town Chief, City Boss, or Loco President? Bruges: Vanden Broele Publishers.


Tony Taglione – Haroche, Pierre. 2009. L’Union européenne au milieu du gué. Entre compromis internationaux et quête de démocratie. Paris: Economica, collection “Études politiques.”