The European Union’s Performance in Multilateral Environmental Agreements: Was the Lisbon Treaty a Game Changer ?

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Series Details Volume 2017, Number 11
Publication Date November 2017
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Drawing on a comparative framework, this paper analyses to what extent and how the institutional reforms of the Treaty of Lisbon impacted on the ‘actorness’ and effectiveness of the European Union (EU) with regard to the negotiation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

In order to examine whether the Lisbon Treaty was really a game changer, the paper compares two case studies before and two case studies after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in the fields of climate change (Copenhagen COP-15 2009 and COP-21 Paris 2015) and biological diversity (Cartagena Protocol 2000 and Nagoya Protocol 2010).

The paper finds significant variation across the four cases, with no clear improvement after the Lisbon Treaty but a more effective EU in the biodiversity regime compared to climate change. The case studies show that the EU’s performance in international environmental negotiations mainly depends on the external context and not on the EU’s internal institutional setup and external representation. Moreover, the climate change regime cannot be seen as the archetypal case of environmental governance, which is why environmental policy fields other than climate change should receive more academic attention

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