From the 1980s onwards environmental policy was a key growth area within the European Union (EU) and, despite a range of challenges, became an important plank of the acquis communautaire. Concomitantly, we saw the emergence of a diverse and exciting literature covering inter alia: ideological innovation in the form of ecological modernization; new policy areas and instruments; and environmental policy actors at different levels of governance, e.g. the Commission, Council, and European Parliament, but also green and/or leader states, green political parties, interest groups and more recently, cities. The EU carved out a role as an international environmental policy actor in its own right generating new theoretical frameworks and empirical insights into the nature of leadership within and beyond Europe.
However, since 2000 we have seen major changes in the form of enlargement, the onset of austerity in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, and a resurgence of Euroscepticism. Combined, these factors have shifted the context within which policy is made and raised questions that challenge the conventional wisdom underpinning the study of European environmental policy. It is consequently timely and essential to reflect on these empirical changes and their implications for our theoretical understanding of European environmental policy. This joint session will bring together exciting senior and junior scholars in the field to reflect upon the current state of art, and more importantly to reflect critically upon the nature of European environmental policy as we move forward into the 21st Century, with a view to identifying and defining the future key trends and directions in the field. We encourage contributions from cognate areas, including public policy, parties, ideologies, comparative politics and international relations. This joint-session will lead to a landmark publication, which will become a key reference for all those working in the area.