In recent years, the European Union has emerged as a leading actor in the negotiation of multilateral environmental agreements and other important instruments of global environmental governance, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The successes of European environmental legislation have also been celebrated, ranging from the expansion of protected areas under the Birds and Habitats Directives to the ambitious objective of a near-total decarbonisation of the European economy by 2050. More recently, the new European Commission followed up on previous commitments to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a landmark vision for a ‘European Green Deal’ that puts sustainable resource use, greenhouse gas emission reduction and conservation of the Union’s natural capital at the centre of the continent’s future growth strategy.
At the same time, however, the outlook for several environmental trends both inside and outside the borders of the European Union is deteriorating rapidly, with the acceleration of climate change and the ongoing loss of biodiversity representing two formidable challenges to the ambitions voiced by European institutions and civil society organisations alike. Policy coherence between environmental and socio-economic goals remains difficult to achieve, and recent proposals for more integrated approaches to the multiple challenges of sustainable development have not yet resulted in a concrete modification of the relevant legal frameworks.
Finally, despite the multiple achievements of European environmental law, the 2019 Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) conducted by the European Commission highlights a series of continuing implementation gaps at the national level, affecting areas including waste and resource efficiency, conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, climate adaptation, air pollution, and water quality.
Against this background, the Jean Monnet module on European and International Environmental Law (EIEL) aims to provide students, practitioners and civil society with in-depth knowledge about the state of the art of European and international environmental law and policy, its achievements and challenges, and its interaction with emerging environmental issues and landmark intergovernmental processes.
Two overarching themes will run through the Module:
(a) the emphasis on the most pressing and emerging issues in European and international environmental law, including the interconnected planetary crises of climate change and biodiversity loss;
(b) the particular focus on implementation and enforcement at the level of the EU and its Member States, consistent with the outstanding needs outlined in the Commission’s latest EIR.