01 Feb 2005

Improving the Climate: Will the new Constitution strengthen EU performance in international climate negotiations?

Louise van Schaik / Christian Egenhofer

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This Policy Brief elaborates on the impact of the EU’s Constitutional Treaty on the preparation, formulation and adoption of the EU’s position in international climate change negotiations. The analysis focuses on how changes envisaged will affect the policy-making process and particularly on whether shortcomings identified in the current situation will be addressed. These shortcomings include the inherent potential for discontinuity in the common position and external representation due to the rotating Presidency system, the intensity and length of EU internal coordination, the technical and environmental focus of the policy-making process and finally questions on democratic legitimacy.
The authors conclude that the long-term strategic perspective and coherence of the EU position in the climate change negotiations would benefit from a larger involvement of the Foreign Minister and European External Action Service envisaged in the Constitutional Treaty. If both were to obtain a role in preparing and negotiating the EU position in climate change, this could benefit the integration of climate change with other external policies of the EU. On the other hand, the new foreign policy machinery of the EU presumably would not have the high level of environmental knowledge of climate change policy and its implementation that is available in the environment ministries. The degree of democratic legitimacy could benefit from the expected switch from consultation to consent required from the European Parliament for the conclusion (ratification) of international climate agreements by the European Union. Finally, the inclusion of the principle of ‘participatory democracy’ in the Constitutional Treaty, which could lead to more involvement of relevant stakeholders, might add to a higher legitimacy of the EU position in the international climate change negotiations.