Hypocrisy as a crisis response? Assessing changes in talk, decisions, and actions of the European Commission in EU environmental policy


In this article, we assess the changing role of the European Commission in EU environmental policy. In line with organizational theory, we expect organizational hypocrisy, namely a decoupling of talk, decisions, and actions, to characterize the Commission’s behaviour in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis. We analyse the extent to which the Commission (1) promotes environmental matters and concepts in press releases and public statements; (2) proposes new and stricter environmental policy changes; and (3) takes action against member states in cases of non‐compliance between the years 2000 and 2016. Our empirical analysis reveals that the Commission has indeed moved towards a pattern of hypocritical policy entrepreneurship in the post‐crisis period. We argue that the decoupling of talk, decision, and action allows the European Commission to keep up its reputation as an environmental policy entrepreneur while, at the same, satisfying member states’ preference for economic recovery and less environmental regulation.

Public Administration