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EU Climate and Energy Policy: How Myopic is It?

Democracy
Elections
European Union
Governance
Institutions
Climate Change
Energy Policy
Jana Gheuens
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Jana Gheuens
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Sebastian Oberthuer
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Abstract

This paper investigates the level of short-termism of recent climate and energy policy in the EU and its legislative actors. Building on literature on democratic myopia and EU climate policy, it offers an assessment and explanation of short-termism or myopia in the EU. To study to what extent the EU and its institutions have a long-term orientation in their climate policy, this paper first develops a measurement tool of short-termism taking into account what is required, the progress made towards what is required and the certainty of delivery of the set targets. Secondly, we use the tool to assess the levels of short-termism of the 2020 and 2030 Climate and Energy Frameworks. The assessment includes the three main legislative actors – the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers (for the 2020 Framework: the European Council). This allows for a comparison both over time and between institutions. Thirdly, to explain the different levels of short-termism between the institutions, we examine aspects of the institutions (e.g. decision-making and electoral procedures, and access of interest groups) and the conditions in which the policies were formulated (e.g. public opinion and interest constellations). Although the 2030 Framework advances the EU’s emission reduction target, the 2020 and 2030 Frameworks both fall short of what is required . None of the institutions can be considered as completely long-term or short-term focused. However, there is some variation between them. We argue that the European Council is the most myopic, followed by the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament. We expect that unanimity and qualified majority voting, the presence of electoral cycles, the access of and dependence on certain interest groups, and anticipatory compliance lead to more myopic policies.