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Environmental NGOs Taking a lead?

Connelly, James; Wurzel, Rüdiger K.W.


James Connelly

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Professor Rudi Wurzel
Professor of Comparative European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Studies.


James Connelly


The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), which set up its offi ce in Brussels in 1974, remained for more than a decade the only major environmental non-governmental organisation (ENGO) focusing primarily on European Union (EU) environmental policy. In 1974 the EEB had 25 member groups from 9 Member States; by 2010 its membership had risen to 143 groups from 31 European countries.2 In the late-1980s there was an ‘explosion of interest’ in EU environmental issues amongst ENGOs (Long 1998:107); Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Climate Action Network (CAN) all set up European offi ces in Brussels between 1986 and 1989. More specialised ENGOs (including the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) and BirdLife International) moved to Brussels in the early 1990s. This mushrooming of ENGOs in Brussels allowed for ‘an implicit division of labour’ (Rucht 1993: 86) and fostered professionalisation (Hey and Brendle 1994; Long and Lörinczi 2009) and specialisation on issues such as EU climate change policy. The European offi ces of the EEB, FoE, Greenpeace and WWF quickly cooperated closely within the ‘Gang of Four’ or ‘G4’ (a parody of the G7 meetings, the name given to the economic summits of the then ‘great seven powers’). From the late 1980s onwards climate change became a major campaign issue for the Brussels-based ENGOs and the need to pool resources and coordinate strategies in order to infl uence EU climate change policy became acute in the run up to the 1992 United Nations (UN) Rio conference. The G4 gradually grew into the G10, comprising BirdLife International, CAN Europe, CEE Bankwatch Network, EEB, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),3 Environment Network, FoE Europe, Greenpeace Europe, International Friends of Nature (INF), T&E, and WWF European Policy Offi ce (Long and Lörinczi 2009). The EEB, FoE, Greenpeace and WWF have remained central players because they cover a wide range of EU environmental issues (including climate change) and represent a large number of members/supporters.


Connelly, J., & Wurzel, R. K. (2010). Environmental NGOs Taking a lead?. In R. Wurzel, & J. Connelly (Eds.), The European Union as a Leader in Climate Change (214-231). London: Routledge.

Acceptance Date Oct 29, 2010
Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2010
Publication Date Oct 29, 2010
Publisher Routledge
Pages 214-231
Series Title Routledge/UACES Contemporary European Studies
Book Title The European Union as a Leader in Climate Change
Chapter Number 13
ISBN 9781136888243; 9780415640138
Public URL