Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation
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Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation

The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California

Edited by David Vogel and Johan Swinnen

This well-documented book analyzes the possibilities and constraints of regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US (particularly California) with a specific focus on environmental protection, food safety and agriculture, biosafety and biodiversity.
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Chapter 3: California Motor Vehicle Standards and Federalism: Lessons for the EU

Ann E. Carlson


Ann E. Carlson1 INTRODUCTION Many commentators have noted the similarities between environmental federalism in the US and EU as both entities have over time consolidated much environmental policy-making.2 States within the US and EU have also retained significant environmental policy-making power, and indeed in the US have more recently been at the forefront of new environmental policy. And obviously, significant differences remain between the two jurisdictions, including those in the timing of their move towards centralization. As David Vogel has carefully documented, the US moved towards more stringent and more centralized environmental regulation earlier than the EU, but since the enactment of the Single European Act in 1987 the EU’s pace towards more stringent and more centralized regulation has accelerated and in many respects outstripped the US (Vogel, 1995, pp. 63–65). Environmental federalism can take several different shapes. One common form is the setting of minimum standards that must be adopted by all member states; the US frequently uses this ‘floor’ pre-emption while continuing to allow states to exceed the floor, including in the regulation of ambient air and water quality (Buzbee, 2007, pp. 1551–52). Another form of federalism is a ‘ceiling’ pre-emption, which prohibits states from exceeding a maximum standard. Ceiling pre-emption often embraces a uniform national policy that can also include setting a maximum standard but allows states to regulate less stringently than this level. The EU’s auto emissions standards are uniform in nature while its 1994 Packaging Directive (94/62/EC) set some maximum standards in order...

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