Book Reviews: The EU as International Environmental Negotiator


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Keywords: EU, environment, international environmental agreements, EU environmental diplomacy

Global environmental problems call for a global regulatory approach. The European Union (EU) often advocates itself as an environmental champion. Acknowledging the limits of domestic policies, it occupies a central role on the international environmental scene. EU intervention has proved to be essential for the conclusion of key international environmental agreements. The EU is, for instance, credited with the suc-cessful negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol and its subsequent ratification following the EU's lobbying of the Russian Federation. The Copenhagen debacle has, however, reminded the EU of the limits of its influence, even in the field of international climate politics where it has historically exercised global leadership. The fact that the United States and emerging economies sidelined the EU in the negotiations of a post-2012 international regime on climate change raises questions as to the future role of the EU in shaping international environmental law.

Delreux's book examines the forces behind the EU's contribution to the conclusion of environmental treaties. It aims to provide insight into the conditions that determine the 'EU nego-tiator's' discretion vis-a-vis the Member Stales during the negotiations of international environmental agreements.

This book starts with an overview of the legal basis for the conclusion of environmental treaties, with special attention to 'mixed' agreements (i.e. the agreements that are negotiated and concluded by both the EU and its Member States). Delreux describes the division of competences between the EU and its Member States and on this basis delimitates the margin of manoeuvre of the EU institutions as regards external environmental issues. Although the focus of the analysis is primarily on the former Treaty establishing the European Community Delreux integrates in his discussion the new provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The analysis of and reference to provisions that are now outdated is justified by the fact that the EUs external environmental policy - and in particular the different environmental treaties that Delreux analyses in his book - has been pursued on the basis of the previous EU external competences.

Chapter 3 introduces the reader to the 'principal-agent' theory that constitutes the conceptual basis of the study Delreux argues that this theory is particularly relevant for environmental treaty-making because Member States delegate negotiation authority to 'an EU negotiator', as a result of which the latter enjoys a certain degree of discretion towards the other. According to the author, 'an EU negotiator is acting, or more par-ticularly 'negotiating', on behalf of the member states' (p. 29). Although this approach clearly is attractive from a political sciences perspective -particularly as regards the conclusion of'mixed' agreements, it raises legal questions. Indeed, the EU holds its external competences directly from the Treaty. The competent EU institutions thus also negotiate in the name of the EU as a political and legal entity. The writer justifies potential discrepancies between the law and its analytical approach by demonstrating the necessity of integrating practicability and pragmatic considerations into the study of the EU's external environmental action.

Based on this theoretical overview, Chapter 4 outlines the eight international environmental agreements that Delreux uses as case studies to analyse the EU institutions' discretion during international environmental negotiations: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, the Kyoto Protocol, the Aarhus Convention, the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Protocol on Strategic Envi-ronmental Assessment.

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