Book Reviews: Implementing EU Pollution Control - Law and Integration


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The value of a book-length treatment of Directive 2008/1 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (the IPPC Directive) will be generally understood by environmental lawyers. The Directive is important practically, but also conceptually, exemplifying a number of aspects of the legal development of environmental protection in the EU (tension between flexibility and centralisation and between substantive and process standards, the use of diverse regulatory instruments, environmental integration, to name just a few). That the text of the Directive, law in the books' as Lange would put it, tells only a fraction of the story has also been clear for some time, since the Directive also exemplifies the trend towards continued negotiation of standards in EU law after completion of the formal legislative process. This valuable book provides an important detailed empirical examination of implementation of the IPPC Directive. It crucially informs our understanding of IPPC 'in action', and provides many perceptive insights for the study of environmental regulation more generally.

Implementing EU Pollution Control carries out a detailed empirical investigation of how 'best available techniques' (BAT) under the IPPC Directive are identified at three different sites: during  the  writing  of BAT  Reference  Notes (BREFs) at EU level, and during implementation in two member states, the UK and Germany. But analysis of the IPPC Directive, whilst important in its own right, and whilst excellently done, is not the main purpose of this book. IPPC provides a case study of the role of law in EU integration. Lange challenges what she calls the 'specific, predetermined concept of law, which perceives law and the 'formal law in the books' as relatively autonomous from its social contexts and as capable of being wielded in an instrumental manner' (p. 15). Lange contrasts what she calls 'traditional' perspectives on law and integration (Ch. 2) with 'critical' approaches (Ch. 3), rejecting this notion of law as relatively autonomous of social processes. Striking for those who study the role of law in environmental protection is her rejection of 'instrumental conception of law', arguing that the relationship between law and social, political and economic (perhaps also environmental?) change is not straightforwardly linear.

Lange argues that the ways in which law features in EU integration is an empirical question that can only be answered with reference to an analysis of what law is actually generated in 'real life EU integration processes', emphasising 'the importance of implementation practices as a source of law' (p. 15). Her discussion of IPPC (in Ch. 6 especially) exem-plifies how formal law can be the starting point for the generation of a variety of norms, with diverse contributions to integration.

The environmental material is perhaps of more concern to the readers of this review than the very interesting theoretical discussion of the role of law in integration. It should be said that the links between the theoretical material and the empirical examination, whilst sometimes challenging, confirm the value of the theoretical chapters. But there is plenty to interest those who prefer their pollution control without Foucault. Chapters 5 to 8 examine different elements of BAT determination, looking at political, technical and economic discourse, and the norms that emerge in the different regulatory fora.

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