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European Union leadership in biofuels regulation: Europe as a normative power?

Afionis, Stavros and Stringer, Lindsay C. 2012. European Union leadership in biofuels regulation: Europe as a normative power? Journal of Cleaner Production 32 , pp. 114-123. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.03.034

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The rapid emergence of the European Union (EU) as a leader in global environmental politics has led many scholars to argue in favour of the EU being a ‘normative power’ in international relations. This paper critically examines the EU's biofuels policy and evaluates whether its attempts to lead by example and shape international practice in this field could support such arguments. Europe's biofuel policies are evaluated through a sustainable development lens, so as to determine the extent to which it has embraced a holistic approach to sustainability. While not dismissing that the identity of the EU is indeed an explanatory factor and that normative intentions may well be regarded as a motivating force, this study argues that an interest-based perspective on international environmental regulation offers a supplementary view of how an actor's preferences for an international regime are shaped. By erecting barriers aimed at shielding its own inefficient domestic biofuels production the EU is in essence placing trade competitiveness and economic growth above environmental protection, thus permitting sustainability concerns to be addressed only in part.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Law & Politics
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-6526
Date of Acceptance: 28 March 2012
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2019 14:30

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