The leadership dynamics between the European Council, the Council and the Member States in European Union (EU) environmental policy since the 1970s are analysed. The puzzle is that, although the EU was set up as a ‘leaderless Europe’, it is widely seen as an environmental leader, albeit sometimes as a one-eyed leader amongst the blind. While differentiating between leadership types, it is argued that the European Council has the largest structural, the Council the most significant entrepreneurial, and the Member States the most important cognitive and exemplary leadership capacities. Most day-to-day environmental policy measures are negotiated by the Environment Council (in collaboration with the European Parliament). The European Council’s increased interest in high politics climate change issues is largely due to the EU’s global leadership ambitions. Member States have traditionally formed environmental leadership alliances on an ad hoc basis although this may be changing.