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Legislating on Car Emissions. What Drives Standards in EU Environmental Policy?
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.
No. 142/2010
Henning Deters

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