Soft Law Behind the Scenes: Transparency, Participation and the European Union’s Soft Law Making Process in the Field of Climate Change

Danai Petropoulou Ionescu*, Mariolina Eliantonio

*Corresponding author for this work

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The global climate crisis poses many risks; for instance, relating to the environment, to the economy and to public health. The mitigation and management of such risks create a complex and multifaceted regulatory conundrum that requires quick, flexible, efficient and adaptive policy solutions that transcend the state level. A quick look in the body of regulatory instruments employed in the field of climate change policy will reveal that soft law is used very frequently by the European Commission to aid with the application, transposition and interpretation of European Union (EU) environmental legislation relating to climate change. While soft law has become ever more prominent in the EU legal order and has been studied extensively at the ex-post phase (ie concerning its effects or effectiveness), little academic attention has been paid to the process of soft law-making. In simple terms, we know very little about how soft law instruments are made. This article peeks behind the scenes of soft law and examines the transparency and participation credentials of the articulation process of Commission Guidance Documents in the field of climate change regulation adopted under key legal acts in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-312
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Issue number2
Early online date9 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • climate change governance
  • environmental law
  • EU soft law
  • participation
  • transparency

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