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Environmental Law and Politics

A course to examine the role of the EU as a global environmental player

Course outline

The EU has a major role as a global environmental player. This course aims to examine those instances where the EU has assumed global leadership in comparison to others where it has a less active role. This course is structured in two sections:

  • The legal and institutional framework. It follows up on the introduction to the policy framework of the EU in the world, presenting the roles and responsibilities of the different EU institutions and stakeholders in the negotiations of the Environmental International Agreements including the challenges and opportunities in their definition and development (e.g. Treaties, latest CJEU rulings or the Aarhus Convention).
  • Thematic approach to environmental law and politics. The course covers the main environmental issues linking the EU and the International levels such as the International commitment to the SDG and the integration of EU environmental considerations into the EU policies to promote sustainable development; Climate Change, by analyzing how the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement link with the EU ETS Directive, the Energy Renewables Directive or the Energy Efficiency Directive; Biodiversity Conservation linking the CBD, the Bern Convention and the Nature Directives; Trade and Biodiversity covering the CITES agreement and the CITES and Timber Regulations.

Learning objectives

At the end of this training on environmental law and politics, participants will have in-depth knowledge about:

  • The role of the EU as a global environmental player
  • The legal framework defining the roles and responsibilities of the different actors as stake from EU institutions to stakeholders in the global and European governance
  • The integration of environmental considerations at EU and International level through the SDG;
  • The legal framework at EU and International level regulating major challenges such as climate change involving climate and energy policies;
  • The legal framework at EU and International level aiming to provide an answer to major impacts such as biodiversity loss

Teaching method

  • Ex cathedra presentations to introduce the issues
  • Analysis in class of legal or policy documents like provisions of the EU Treaties, decisions of the CJEU, specific International Agreements, Directives or regulations, Commission communications, (European) Council conclusions, …
  • Interactive discussions about the content of these documents, their meaning and consequences for the implementation of the environment policy
  • The discussions might be preceded by group work for specific assignments and readings of the relevant documents in preparation to the course
  • Interactions with professionals from relevant stakeholders, EU institutions and international organisations providing different legal, political and institutional elements of the issue at stake

Academic Integrity

Participants on this environmental law and politics course are expected to abide by all MEUS academic rules. In particular, any evidence of plagiarism or cheating will be sanctioned by a 0/20 on the final evaluation.

environmental law and politicsMarta Ballesteros is Principal Legal and Policy Consultant at Milieu Ltd.

She is a Spanish lawyer responsible for the development and management of people and projects supporting public sector clients to define effective legal and regulatory frameworks in different areas of EU Environmental law including climate and energy legislation.

She has more than 20 years of experience working on the implementation of EU law sometimes leading very strategic projects such as the Fitness Check on the Nature Directives or regular studies for the EP analysing the Commission’s report on implementation and enforcement of EU law.

She was part of the Commission delegation to the International negotiations of the CBD.

She regularly provides training on EU environmental law internally within Milieu and externally in ERA or on request to the EP, Commission or NGOs (for example on the impact of the Lisbon Treaty in the environment policy).

Previously she was Deputy Director of the WWF EPO, Head of the Save the Children Brussels office or the Head of the ClientEarth Brussels office. Marta holds a law degree by the University Autónoma of Madrid with specialization in human rights law by the Institute of Human Rights in Madrid and a Master in European law and institutions by the Université Catholique de Louvain la Neuve.

Evaluation Methods

The evaluation is based on:


In class participation. In order to enable this evaluation, attendance is considered mandatory and more than 3 unjustified absences may lead to not passing the course.


Paper/oral presentation based on two different questions, one per section of the course. The exam will be an open book exam where participants may have all documents used during classes, even if they are underlined or annotated.

This course in numbers

Class time and credits

18 Total hours of lectures
2 Credits (ECTS) awarded

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