The environmental integration principle: a necessary step towards policy coherence for sustainability

By Beate Sjåfjell, University of Oslo

In The EU and the Proliferation of Integration Principles under the Lisbon Treaty, by Francesca Ippolito, Maria Eugenia Bartoloni, Massimo Condinanzi (eds)

19 December 2018, Routledge


Article 11 in the Treaty on the Function of the European Union (TFEU) sets out that: ‘Environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development.’ The environmental integration that this rule mandates for the EU is arguably a necessary contribution to achieve policy coherence for sustainable development, or sustainability – as it currently often denoted. However, the mere existence of this provision is clearly not sufficient to achieve the environmental integration in all EU policies and activities, let alone policy coherence to facilitate global sustainability.

For the duty of environmental integration to make a significant contribution to achieving such policy coherence, the environmental integration must have a clearly defined goal. Including environmental concerns at some level or other, an attempted ‘greening’ of European policies, is insufficient.

Article 11 TFEU sets out the goal as one of ‘promoting sustainable development’. This goal must be defined in light of natural science. This is necessary to mitigate the problem of sustainability being an extremely overused and broad concept with multiple definitions, and to reduce the danger of regulatory and policy capture. The reference to natural science is not to say that sustainability only has an environmental dimension; it clearly does not. However, the environmental literally must set the framework within which the balancing sustainability requires must take place. This chapter draws on state-of-the-art natural science on planetary boundaries to flesh out what this means. Thereafter the chapter discusses the potential transformational effect of Article 11 TFEU through the duties it arguably sets out for the EU institutions and the rights, and emerging duties, for the EU Member States. The full realization of this potential could lead to cross-sectorial discussions on necessary changes to achieve policy coherence for sustainability. The chapter concludes with some reflections on how to realise the potential.

ISBN 9780415789257

The EU and the Proliferation of Integration Principles under the Lisbon Treaty, Francesca Ippolito, Maria Eugenia Bartolino and Massimo Condinanzi (eds), Routledge, Chapter 6 

Available on Taylor & Francis eBooks


Published July 1, 2020 12:32 PM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2020 10:12 AM