The significance of the European Constitutional Treaty for the capacity of environmental proponents
The 'Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe' is a single Treaty that has been developed to replace the existing Treaties of the European Union. This paper analyses the changes the proposed Constitutional Treaty would introduce in terms of their significance for the formal capacity of environmental proponents, both in the EU administration and civil society, to influence and partake in the EU decision-making process. The current proposal of a Constitutional Treaty has been rejected in referenda in two EU Member States. Nonetheless, such a treaty remains on the political agenda. The rejection of the existing proposal provides the opportunity of a Treaty review, thus creating the possibility to formally strengthen the capacity of environmental proponents in the EU. The analysis is based on an adaptation of the framework of 'environmental capacity' developed by Weidner and Jänicke (1997). The main elements addressed in the analysis are constitutional mandates and requirement for: the institutionalisation of environmental proponents in the EU administration, including procedural rights in the EU decision-making process; the generation of environmental information through requirements for environmental monitoring and reporting; the participation of civil society; the integration of environmental considerations into other policy fields; strategic environmental action. The study concludes that the changes envisaged by Constitutional Treaty would be of minor significance for the formal capacity of environmental proponents. The Treaty would not institutionalise environmental proponents in the EU's administrative framework or equip them with procedural rights in the EU decision-making process. Also, it would not introduce environmental monitoring and reporting requirements. These would continue to be dealt with through EU secondary law. The constitutional provisions on public participation, however, may be described as the principal achievement of the EU's proposed Constitutional Treaty and would formally strengthen the capacity of environmental proponents to partake in the EU decision-making process. The Constitutional Treaty would maintain environmental integration requirements, yet these would challenged by the Treaty's outdated policy section that openly contradicts environmental objectives. Strategic action would not be addressed by the Constitutional Treaty, but through other EU initiatives. Although many of the above have been addressed through EU legislation, this paper argues that mandating or requiring these elements on constitutional basis would strengthen environmental proponents' basis of legitimacy and thus, enhance their capacity to influence EU policy-making. A future review of the Constitutional Treaty should thus include these mandates and requirements into the Treaty's text.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsstrategic environmental action; environmental principles; public participation; environmental policy integration; European Constitutional Treaty; European Union; environmental capacity; environment; environmental information
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