In the mid to late 1980s, few books on European politics and policy would have talked about environmental issues, let alone devoted an entire chapter to environmental policy. Now, environmental protection has become an integral part of policy-making in most of Western Europe. This chapter discusses recent developments in environmental policy and politics in Western Europe. The first section shows how national approaches to environmental problems have varied, allowing a broad distinction between ‘green’ and less ‘green’ countries. This is followed by an examination of how national, international and EU policies have become increasingly intertwined, the latter taking on particular significance in recent years. This section also discusses the impact of the subsidiarity debate and the difficulty of accommodating national and subnational environmental policies within a coherent European framework. The third section focuses on some of the recent challenges presented to policy-makers, such as sustainable development and the emphasis on economic instruments.
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