Research into the European Union (EU) increasingly focuses on the policy-making
processes which take place within the EU, as distinct from trying to explain or
predict the broad phenomenon of European integration. This thesis adopts a similar
focus on EU policy-making. Policy-making in the EU is examined using a policy
network approach. The main aim of the thesis is to assess how useful the policy
network approach is as a means of explaining EU policy processes and policy
outputs. The policy network approach is therefore applied not simply as a
mechanism for describing patterns of interest intermediation but, rather, as a tool
for explaining a new form of network governance in the EU. The thesis therefore
aims to test the claims of the policy network literature that it can better account for
policy-making in the EU than can more traditional approaches derived either from
international relations (IR) or comparative politics (CP).
The thesis applies a policy network approach to the study of EU environmental
policy-making. Three case studies - on air quality, landfill and drinking water
legislation - are examined, in order to assess whether a policy network approach
can help explain the development of EU policy in these areas. Overall the thesis
finds a useful role for policy network analysis in helping to explain EU policymaking
and policy outputs. At the same time, however, the thesis confirms the
limitations of the policy network approach at EU-level. Policy network analysis
must therefore be combined with both IR and CP approaches in order to gain a
fuller understanding of how EU policy is made.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.