Ian Bailey



This thesis provides a critical review of the processes shaping the implementation of European Union (EU) environmental policy. It focuses on two aspects of this dynamic, the interpretation of EU law by Member States and the use of legislative and price-based policy instruments to achieve policy objectives. The overall aim of the study is to examine the extent to which price-based regulation can contribute to the EU's policy objective of sustainable development. The focus for the research is the formulation of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and its implementation in two Member States, Britain and Germany. A variety of research methods were employed, including literature and document searches, personal correspondences, telephone interviews, and postal surveys. The latter stage included a survey of British and German businesses affected by national packaging waste legislation. The first major finding was that the methods used by Member States to implement EU requirements are a major determinant of the sustainability outcomes achieved. By adopting command-and-control legislation and punitive environmental charges, Germany has achieved high recycling rates and significant reductions in packaging consumption. Britain's market-led approach has struggled to achieve its environmental targets but has produced a relatively cost-efficient recycling system. However, the second major finding was that environmental charges have not altered industry behaviour significantly. Whilst German firms were found to be more actively involved in preventative waste management than their British counterparts, this has been brought about primarily by legislative provisions and the readiness of national authorities to resort to constrictive regulation. The main contribution of price-based regulation has instead been the generation of hypothecation revenue for pollution control. From these findings, a conceptual model outlining the sustainability outcomes produced by legislation and price-based regulation is developed and discussed. From this evidence, it is concluded that the use of price-based regulation alongside state-determined implementation has led to some divergence in the sustainability outcomes achieved by EU environmental law. Moreover, the economic approach to environmental problems does little to resolve the fundamental conflicts of priorities between the EU's environmental agenda and its other policy domains. Some options for greater co-ordination of economic instruments at the EU level are suggested and evaluated. The thesis therefore provides a wide-ranging analysis of the practical application of price-based environmental regulation. Its primary contribution is that it assesses how political and practical issues combine to influence the implementation of environmental policy. Furthermore, by assessing EU policy in terms of its contribution to sustainable development, the study has sought to provide a holistic examination of the forces determining the success of the EU's environmental programme.

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