|The working paper examines the decision-making process of what has most likely been the most contentious European environmental policy-item in 2009: the regulation 443/2009 setting carbon dioxide emission performance standards for new passenger cars. In contrast to the empirical trend of rather stringent protection levels, where environmental front-runner countries, encouraged by the Commission and the European Parliament, are able to set the pace, the regulation in question was largely shaped by the most reluctant member state – Germany with its high-volume, premium car manufacturers. By process-tracing the legislative decision-making, the paper accounts for this lowest-common-denominator outcome. Commission and EP had “greener” preferences than the Council. Yet, both actors suffered from a of lack internal consistency, with national differences leading to strong in-fights between Commissioners and limiting the voting coherence of EP party-groups. The issue was therefore already highly politicized at the agenda-setting stage. This, and the fact that the dossier was handled in a fast-track procedure, curtailed Commission influence. In the Council negotiations, Germany was able to muster a potential blocking minority together with those, mostly east-European countries, were subsidiaries of German car companies are located. “Greener” member states were, however, not prepared to veto down the regulation although they criticized its lack of ambition.
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