Explaining the evolution of European Union foreign climate policy: A case of bounded adaptiveness

Simon Schunz


Ever since the inception of the United Nations climate regime in the early 1990s, the European Union has aspired to play a leading part in the global combat against climate change. Based on an analysis of how the Union has developed its foreign climate policy to fulfil this role over the past two decades, the paper sets out to identify the driving factors behind this evolution. It demonstrates that the EU’s development in this area was co-determined by adaptations to shifting international dynamics strongly bounded by purely domestic concerns. Providing a concise understanding and explanation of how the Union designs its foreign policy with regard to one emblematic issue of its international activity, the contribution provides insights into the remarkably rapid, but not always effective maturation of this unique actor’s involvement in global politics.


climate change, climate policy, Council of Ministers, environmental policy, European Commission, foreign policy, Institutionalism, integration theory, leadership, path dependence, political science

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European Integration online Papers | ISSN 1027-5193
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