Policy Entrepreneurship Curbed by Member State Preferences: DG Climate Action and the Effort Sharing Policy
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- CICERO Reports 
Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union (EU) are divided between two sector overreaching policy frameworks, the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Effort Sharing policy. The Effort Sharing policy distributes national targets to all member states to reduce emissions from transport, buildings, agriculture, waste-management and small industry. A central feature of the Effort Sharing policy framework is the much-disputed flexibility mechanisms. These flexibility mechanisms contribute to increase the cost-efficiency in efforts to reduce emissions from these sectors but might also contribute to delay action where the costs of reducing emissions are high. The European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission had diverging opinions on what is the right level of flexibility in the Effort Sharing policy. Thus, the flexibility mechanism took centre stage under the review of the Effort Sharing policy framework. This study investigates to what extent the Directorate-General (DG) for Climate Action acted as a policy entrepreneur to influence the level of flexibilities in the review of the European Union’s Effort Sharing policy for the 2021-2030 period. It draws on policy entrepreneurship theory and historical institutionalism and makes use of process tracing of the review of the Effort Sharing policy. Empirical data is collected from official EU documents and in-depth interviews. Due of the contextual conditions that constrained the room for policy entrepreneurship, it was least likely that the Commission would be able to act as a policy entrepreneur. The conditions for entrepreneurship were restricted by the asymmetrical preferences among the member states under the review process of the Effort Sharing policy from 2013-2016. However, the evidence suggests that even under such constraints, DG Climate Action is able to act as a policy entrepreneur. In response to the constraining conditions, DG Climate Action used entrepreneurial strategies to block attempts to increase the flexibilities in the Effort Sharing policy framework, thus acted as a status quo policy entrepreneur under the review of the Effort Sharing policy.