Environment and the Single Market

PIProf. Dr. Katharina Holzinger, Prof. Dr. Christoph Knill
FundingEU, DG Environment
Period01/2008 – 09/2008, abgeschlossen

Dipl. Pol. Aike Müller, Dipl.Pol. Thomas Sommerer,



The starting point of the project is the observation that a harmonised approach is still missing within the European Union in regard to a number of environmental policy areas. While many commonly agreed objectives exist on the European level, a relatively lax approach towards Community environmental legislation prevails, thereby leaving it largely to the Member States to determine how these objectives are best achieved. There are many good reasons for this; the national capacities and institutions can be utilised, and variations in local conditions might be more appropriately addressed.
However, cross-national differences in environmental standards may persist. Stakeholders and academics disagree to what extent such differences in environmental standards might cause competition distortions and what effects such distortions might have. Of further consideration, is whether the absence of environmental policies on the European level might also cause market distortions. The introduction of European standards might potentially level the playing field and contribute to the removal of market barriers.
The aim of the project “The Environment and the Single Market” was to identify areas of environmental policy where a lack of standardisation in environmental policies led or still leads to competition distortions, and to discuss options to overcome these distortions. To this end, the research team (including Adelphi Research, Freie Universität Berlin, GHK Consulting, Policy Studies Institute and Universität Konstanz) compiled literature reviews, analyzed the historical development of environmental standards and carried out case studies of various depths and methodologies. In the case studies, the extent to which possible variances in implementation of environmental policy cause market distortions was analysed, or if just the opposite, whether environmental policies were contributing to a dissolution of existing market distortions. The case studies focus on environmental
policies that potentially impose higher implementation costs in one European country in comparison
to another. The project was not concerned with cases that impose non-tariff trade barriers for products;  as for these, there is an extensive legal framework.

Link to Final Report