Still a green leader? The European Union's role in international climate negotiations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Since the early 1990s, the European Union (EU) has presented itself as a leader on climate change. Recently, however, this picture has been challenged in the media and by non-governmental organization representatives. The aim of our article is to evaluate the Union's present role in the area of international climate politics. We do this by scrutinizing the EU's own role conception, but also, and primarily, by investigating the perceptions and expectations of government representatives from outside the Union itself. Our results - reflecting external perceptions of the EU after COP 14 (Conference of the Parties) in December 2008 - demonstrate that the EU is indeed still seen as a green leader. Officials from both developing states and major powers share the view of the Union as a largely coherent and credible leader, though some observers question the correspondence between what the EU says and what it does. The EU is mainly perceived to lead by example by being a role model for other state actors. We discuss how these results fare in the light of the COP 15 Copenhagen meeting in December 2009.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • leadership, role, model, external perceptions, climate change, European Union
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-273
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch