FRAL - Appel Franco-allemand en sciences humaines et sociales

A European Leap? The History of EC/EU Environmental Policy, 1980–2000 (ELEMENT) – ELEMENT

Submission summary

A European Leap? The History of EC/EU Environmental Policy, 1980–2000 (ELEMENT) investigates the rise of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors to become a highly influential actor on environmental issues.

Today, many scholars claim that the EU’s powers in this field do not just supersede those of its member states but that it has even become the
global regulatory leader (Bradford 2020; Hadjiyianni 2019). We need to test this claim about leadership with case studies and assess the reasons for this rise.

To do so, ELEMENT addresses three specific issues: (1) how and why the European Communities (EC) and later the EU became more important in shaping environmental policies than its individual member states; (2) how European governance techniques changed with regard to (national) implementation and the monitoring of compliance and if the field saw a shift towards a more “neoliberal” approach, more lenient with polluters such as firms; (3) if the EC/EU indeed
managed to acquire a globally leading role both in relation to other international organizations (IOs) and the United States, the long-time leader in this field.
With these goals, ELEMENT seeks to overcome the separation between three research fields: (1) European integration history, (2) environmental history and (3) social science research on EC/EU environmental policy. These fields are hardly ever analyzed together, especially for the crucial period from 1980 to 2000. ELEMENT connects them through a series of case studies and conceptual innovation. It investigates the rising importance of EC/EU environmental policy through fresh multi-national research based on primary material.

To do so, a Franco-German team of seven persons will be constituted. The two PIs have an extensive track-record in research on the history of EC/EU economic, social and to some extent of environmental policies and in international research cooperation. Four PhD researchers will work on projects covering complementary case studies (carbon tax & car emission in Paris; water pollution & the “greening” of the CAP in Munich). The team will also include C. Bonneuil, an expert in the history of science, technology and the environment. The advisory board is composed of specialists of European environmental policies (from history and the social sciences) and on other European states, complementing the PIs’ expertise.

The Franco-German added value is two-fold: ELEMENT seeks to bridge the gap between the three separate literatures mentioned above. Beyond the French and German cases, which are essential for the project, ELEMENT will serve as a launchpad for wider international research.
The research team adopts an integrated approach with regular meetings and workshops in both countries, joint archival trips, publications and dissemination events. Overall, ELEMENT will create new knowledge on a highly topical issue and will foster international and interdisciplinary dialogue in an area where it has been missing so far.

Project coordination

Laurent WARLOUZET (Sorbonne-Identités, relations internationales et civilisations de l'Europe)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LMU Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
SIRICE Sorbonne-Identités, relations internationales et civilisations de l'Europe

Help of the ANR 671,287 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: August 2022 - 36 Months

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