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A weakened pioneer: lessons learned from the EU's climate policy crisis

Pawel Pustelnik

The EU has been long considered a world-leader in climate policy, however in the past decade it became both less able to maintain one voice with regards to climate issues and incapable of using its leverage to exert influence on non-EU countries. One of the recent failures evidencing EU's weakened role has been caving in to international pressures and partially suspending the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for aviation. Engaging with emissions trading as a case, this paper analyses the EU strategies employed to firstly sustain its position in multilateral, climate-related regulation of aviation and secondly, it considers the lessons learned from the crisis situation. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that common positions between the Directorates General (DGs) must be safeguarded for the EU to promote its regulatory power and expanding its legitimacy. While drawing on interviews conducted in 2013 in Washington, DC with representatives of US aviation industry, eNGOs and Congressional staff as well as in 2014 in Brussels and London with European Commission officials, aviation industry representatives, eNGOs and policy think tanks, this paper contributes at both theoretical and methodological levels.

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