Environmental and Social Policy

Environmental and social policy in the old and new EU member states– New modes of governance in policy and country comparison

Research directors: Dr. Sabine von Oppeln, Dr. des. Carina Sprungk
Funding: Currently in application phase – Preliminary funding by the Commission of Research of the Freie Universität Berlin


The project "Environmental and social policy in the old and new EU member states: Comparing the role of new modes of governance in different policy areas and countries" is currently in the application phase and is preliminarily funded by the Commission of Research of the FU Berlin.

The European Union (EU) has propagated the use of new modes of governance as an alternative to the conventional hierarchical modes of governance at the latest since the publication of the European White Book on Governance in 2001. Followed by the publication of the action plan “Simplifying and improving the regulatory environment” in 2002, the White Book especially provides for the integration of non-state actors into the process of European policy formulation in the form of co-regulation, self-regulation or “regulated self-regulation.” While these new modes of governance were originally envisaged for policy formulation on the EU-level, the EU has also propagated the use of new modes of governance by the member states themselves and in fields in which it does not have (sufficient) competencies in policy formulation (cf. Open Method of Coordination). The same applies, however, to those cases in which the EU does have regulatory competencies. A case in point is the decision of the European Commission in the mid 1990s to encourage the use of voluntary agreements between industry and national governments in the field of environmental policy.

The research project aims to examine the implementation of these new “soft” forms of governance in the European multi-level system. It seeks to find those factors that promote the use of new modes of governance, i.e. the cooperation between state and non-state actors and self-regulation by non-state actors. This question will be examined in selected member states of the European Union (presumably Germany, France and Poland) in specific policy fields (environmental and social policy), based on the implementation of the new mode of governance propagated by the EU. In practice, the project is conducted along the line of three questions. First, we will ask, on the basis of a country comparison, in how far and in what way the implementation of new modes of governance are advanced or hindered by state and non-state actors at the national level through specific features pertaining to the political system of the respective country (institutional-administrative structures, values, basic orientations and political style of involved actors). Furthermore, the comparative policy analysis deals with the question to what extent the differences in the degree of integration of the particular policy fields and in the weighted regulative and redistributive regulation strategies have an effect on the implementation of new modes of governance in the member states. Lastly, a diachronic comparative perspective will be taken into account and we will ask to what extent, over time, the development of new modes of governance at the national level feeds back to the European level.