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The growing remit of the EU in environmental and climate change policy and citizens’ support across the Union

Jürgen Gerhards & Holger Lengfeld

Berliner Studien zur Soziologie Europas Nr. 11 | Februar 2008 | Download als PDF


In a first step, we reconstruct the emergence and content of European Union climate and environmental policies. These policies have become increasingly important such that today the EU expects member states actively to protect the natural environment even at the price of less economic freedom and higher financial costs. Using 2006 Eurobarometer data, we then analyze the extent to which citizens support this nor-mative idea of environmental protection. Overall, the approval rating for the EU eco-logical idea is high, and environmental protection is an integral component of Euro-pean citizens’ value system. Nevertheless, not all countries support this to the same degree. Citizens of EU-15 countries show higher levels of support for the environ-ment to take precedence over economic claims than citizens in Accession I and II country groups and in Turkey. As regression analysis show, the level of support de-pends on several factors. The most important ones are the country’s level of eco-nomic modernization, and the citizens’ generalised political orientations.


Soziologie - Euiropäische Gesellschaften