Globalization pp 397-430 | Cite as

The European Union’s Role in the Development of Global Environmental Law



This article is focusing on the role that the European Union (EU) is playing as a global actor when it is using its ‘internal’ regulatory power as well as its parallel market power ‘externally’ to strengthen and to fill out gaps in the global environmental law. The EU is at the forefront of international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission as one of the most important global challenges, and the mentioned regulatory role of the EU is illustrated in this article by three examples related to GHG emissions from transport: The EU’s use of the ‘cap and trade’ principle on all aircrafts that arrive or depart from its territory; the EU’s proposal on the use of monitoring, reporting and verifications (MRV) obligations on all ships that arrive or depart from its territory; and the EU’s use of mandatory sustainability criteria on all biofuels used by road traffic. These examples involve transnational regulation of private sector actors. The EU ambitions are to ensure a model for global norms in situations, where the international regimes are ineffective. The EU legislator has the European Court of Justice’s word for its right to permit a commercial activity to be carried out by foreign enterprises only on its territory provided that the operators comply with the EU norms; and it has the Court’s word for its right to act with exclusive external competences to ensure an export of the norms also in situations where it is the Member States of the EU—and not the EU—that are the accepted parties of the international organisation that the EU wants to push.


European Union World Trade Organization International Maritime Organization International Civil Aviation Organisation Multilateral Agreement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Agreement on Government Procurement

Annex I parties

Developed countries

Annex II parties

Developed countries in transition from a plan economy to a market economy


The Bali Action Plan


Common Agricultural Policy


Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities


Clean development mechanism


The European Commission


Conference of the Parties


The European Council


The European Court of Justice


Energy Efficiency Design Index


Emission trading scheme

ETS Directive

The EU’s Directive on Emission Trading (2003/87/EC as amended)


The European Union


The EU’s Emission Trading Scheme


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade


Greenhouse gas


The International Civil Aviation Organisation


Direct and indirect land-use changes


The International Maritime Organization


The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change


The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature


Joint implementation


Least developed countries

MARPOL 73/78

The Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships


Market-based measures


The Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the IMO


Most favoured nations


Monitoring reporting and verifications


Nationally appropriate mitigation actions


No more favourable treatment

Non-Annex I parties

Developing countries


The Directive on Promoting Renewable Energy (Directive 2009/28/EC)


The Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan


Small islands developing countries

SOLAS Convention

The International Convention for the Safety of the Life at Sea

TBT Agreement

The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade


The Treaty on the European Union


The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union


The Treaty of Lisbon


The United Nations


The United Nations’ Environmental Programme


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


The United States of America


The World Commission on Environment and Development


The World Trade Organization

Aarhus Convention

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawAarhus University, Aarhus BSSAarhus CDenmark

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