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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

EU environmental policy is typically identified as a success story; actors within the EU took the creation of the single market as an opportunity to introduce an impressive array of environmental regulation and to place the Union at the forefront of international efforts to combat global environmental problems. However, whilst portraits of the EU and its ‘pioneer’ states as being environmental leaders are seductive, when subjected to empirical analysis a more nuanced and complex picture emerges. Moreover, there are some long-standing and more recent challenges to the EU's self-perception and wider reputation as an environmental leader. This article first reviews the development of the EU's environmental policy before addressing the principal challenges that the Union faces in the field of environmental policy. These include the persistent implementation deficit; enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe; and the re-emerging tension between the EU's perception that it is a global environmental leader and its failure to deliver at major international meetings, such as the climate change conferences in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010).

Keywords: EU environmental policy, climate change conference, policy implementation

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