Public and the Environment

Public support for environmental protection within the EC has remained strong since the Community's formation, with eurobarometers indicating that the public places the environment above finance, defense, or employment as an EU issue. The public recognizes that environmental issues are not country-specific, and most agree that protection of the environment should be addressed at an international level (McCormick, 1999, p. 136).

However, the variety of concerns among member countries has had both a negative and a positive impact on the EC as an organization. Opinionated anti-EC groups within Denmark (preferring more stringent Danish legislation) have used environmental policy as an argument for withdrawing from the union, and it fought to create the previously mentioned Article 100A(4) (Anderson and Liefferink, 1997, p. 29). On the other hand, the public interest in various member states has led to the strong Green Party presence in the Parliament, as well as a variety of euro-interest groups.

Although grassroots Green parties play only a small role in the devising phase of policies, and few organizations are prepared to work internationally, they have provided enough influence at the local level (Leveque, 1996, p. 20) to get their representatives elected to nine different countries' Parliament positions. On a domestic level, seven EC member countries now have Green cabinet ministers as a result of public support of the Green Party (European Greens, 2003, p. 2). Interest groups have also been active in the implementation process of environmental policy; their concern is focused on the member states' levels of successful implementation, and their work involves rallying toward the inspection of weak environmental areas (McCormick, 1999, p. 137).

Created in 1994, the European Environmental Agency is an organization that works with the EC to provide information to the public and to policymakers. The public can use the EEA to access accurate and current information on policies or developments in the policymaking process. The EEA sees itself as a networking organization for everyone, and it has provided an important link between the public and policymakers.

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