Keywords: European Union, environmental NGOs, Europeanisation, non-governmental organisations, EU accession, legislation, empowerment, EU-driven policies, legislative reforms, institutionalisation, local organisations, radical organisations, EU institutions, constraints, neo-liberalism, ideologies, political pressure, lobby groups, pressure groups, lobbying, economic pressures, conservationists, sustainability, sustainable development, Nature Trust Malta, Birdlife Malta, Friends of the Earth, Din l-Art Helwa, Moviment Graffitti, Zminijietna, Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association, Biological Conservation Research Foundation, Gaia Foundation, Hondoq, Qui-si-sana, Tigne, residents associations, recycling plants, Wied Garnaw, green economics
Are ENGOs empowered through EU accession? The case of Maltese ENGOs
Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and carried out vast changes in its environmental legislation during the process. Environmental NGOs have been key actors in this regard. This paper verifies whether Malta's EU accession has helped empower such organisations. The paper argues that EU accession has enhanced empowerment of ENGOs. This has occurred as a result of EU-driven policy and legislative reforms, leading to the institutionalisation of various ENGOs - especially if conservationist, but not if local or radical - through their participation in environmental reform. In addition, lobbying opportunities for ENGOs within EU institutions have increased. However, various factors constrain the ENGOs' empowerment, including neo-liberal ideology; political pressure from other lobby groups; and economic pressures. It should be qualified that empowerment has effected ENGOs differently, with conservationists gaining most, followed by sustainable development, radical and local ENGOs respectively.