Written by Climate Scorecard EU Manager Brittany Demogenes
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organizations. The EEB brings together 160 civil society organizations from more than 35 European countries under its vision of creating a “better future where people and nature thrive together” (About EEB). The EEB advocates for progressive policies to “create a better environment in the European Union and beyond through agenda setting, monitoring, advising on and influencing the way the EU deals with environmental problems” (About EEB). More specifically, they focus their efforts on climate change, biodiversity, pollution, and waste prevention.
The EEB is especially unique in that it is an umbrella organization covering a wide array of policy issues. Membership is open to NGOs active in the field of the environment. Moreover, the EEB utilizes coalition building through working with other environmental groups (such as the Green 10) as well as social and developmental organizations, trade unions, and progressive industries to advocate for equitable and environmentally friendly EU policies. Headquartered in Brussels, the organization is funded by the OECD, the UNEP, the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the Climate Works Foundation, and EU member state governments.
Member organizations are divided either into national organizations or into European networks. Examples of some of the EEB’s member organizations include Friends of the Earth Cyprus, the Czech Republic’s Society for Sustainable Living (SSL), Zero Waste France and Latvia’s Green Liberty. Examples of European Networks include Coastwatch Europe, Eco-union, and Youth and Environment Europe (YEE). On an administrative level, the EEB has 68 staff members.
The EEB identifies policy priorities by evaluating a variety of criterion such as the impact a specific policy has on the environment, the EEB’s potential to make a difference on a policy level, public and media concern, or a project’s potential to get funded. There are a multitude of examples where the EEB is currently aiming to influence the EU’s climate practices through impacting key-decision making processes. One specific area is the realm of environmental law and justice. In its 2021 Work Programme, the EEB states that it hopes to push for the strengthening of the Environmental Liability Directive and to monitor and provide input to the assessment of the Environmental Crimes Directive. Moreover, the EEB would like to monitor the European Commission’s work on the rule of law in the Member States with the help of national NGOs and maintain the pressure for a more systemic follow-up of complaints and more extensive use of the infringements process to deal with breaches of environmental law.
Another area the EEB is working to improve is Sustainable Development. The organization has outlined that it will participate, and provide input, in the UNECE Regional Forum for Sustainable Development and support EEB members and partners in their participation in the regional and global Sustainable Development process. They have also stated that they will engage with EEB members through the 2030 Agenda working group to ensure members’ input into national, regional and global Sustainable Development processes, and to encourage the development or updating of National Sustainable Development Strategies.
A final area where the EU has worked, and continues to work, to advocate for change in order to secure greater climate action is the EU budget. As part of the project “An MFF for the Climate” (supported by the European Climate Initiative) the EBB, together with Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Green Budget Germany, and Clean Air Action Group (Hungary), has been following the EU budget negotiations with the aim of building a bridge between institutions, governments, and civil society. The EEB has called on EU institutions to allocate more money to climate action; on behalf of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the EEB wrote a report summarizing the current state of affairs and the need for a green budget. Together with its coalition, the EEB carried out a survey across Europe asking prominent NGOs their views on EU spending and their expectations for the future. These views were later presented at a Brussels conference where members of civil society met representatives of EU institutions to discuss the next steps for the adoption of the 2021-2027 budget.
Hence, through bringing together a diverse and well-informed group of civil society organizations, the EEB has been able to strongly advocate for EU climate policy change in a coherent and persuasive manner. However, the EEB’s impacts are limited by the willingness of EU policy-makers to put conflicting interests aside and adopt the recommended policies.
The EEB can scale-up through continuing to welcome new member NGOs. This will facilitate greater lobbying power in the EU decision-making process regarding climate change and lead to an increased diversity and innovation in policy recommendations. Potential organizations for additional collaborative efforts include Climate Action Network Europe and organizations like the WWF EU. It may also be beneficial for the EEB to continue to develop wider public support for climate change policies through performing a greater number of informational campaigns that increase public awareness of climate change issues. This will increase the likelihood that the public will demand that EU officials enact meaningful climate change policies and could lead to a swifter creation and adoption of policies.
2021 Work Programme. Brussels: European Environmental Bureau, 2021. Print.
“About EEB – EEB – The European Environmental Bureau.” EEB, eeb.org/homepage/about/.
“An EU Budget to Address the Climate Crisis.” EEB, eeb.org/work-areas/climate-energy/an-eu-budget-to-address-the-climate-crisis/.
“Our Members – EEB – The European Environmental Bureau.” EEB, eeb.org/who-we-are/our-members.
“Work Areas – EEB – The European Environmental Bureau.” EEB, eeb.org/work-areas/.
Image Courtesy of: https://eeb.org