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European Cooling on Global Warming? Climate Change as a Source of Political Legitimacy in the European Union

Jeremy Moulton

Since the mid-2000s the EU has been beset by a series of crises; crises that have endangered the future of the European project. One posited solution suggests that the transborder threat of climate change presents an opportunity for EU institutions to display their legitimacy by working on a widely popular issue (as demonstrated in successive Eurobarometer survey results). With grounding in political myth theory and by focusing on 'the engine of Europeanintegration', the European Commission, this paper explores the extent to which climate actionis conceptualised in EU governance circles as an issue around which Europe can stand united. Interviews with senior Commission staff and Cabinet Members in both the Barroso and Juncker Commissions are used to inform the conclusions in this first operationalisation of politicalmyth in relation to the EU and climate action. The findings reveal that climate change is not a political myth in decline. Rather, it can be understood as a 'myth in hibernation' - one that has been adapted for a time of crisis and for which there is a drive within the Commission to see further diffusion of. In the search for a cause to rebuild public support for the EU around, it is apparent that climate action is regarded in EU governance circles as a potential political myth.

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