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'Gold plating' of European Environmental Measures?

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Minimum harmonization in European environmental law essentially means that the Member States have the power to lay down more stringent standards in this area of regulation than those laid down by European legislation. However, there were indications which seemed to suggest that Member States make very little use of their powers to lay down or maintain more stringent national standards. The general question to be dealt with in this paper is whether Member States actually use their power to lay down or maintain more stringent environmental standards after European harmonization. Based upon the papers and discussion at the meeting of the Avosetta Group of European Environmental Lawyers in Monção (Portugal), 6 and 7th February 2009, this paper aims to paint an impressionist picture of the contemporary practice of gold plating (or not) in the Member States.


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