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Sustainability Policy and the Law

Author: JENS KARSTEN AND LUCIA A. REISCH
Published in GPS, Vol. 4 No. 1

Growing awareness of environmental and social concern and the
pressing issue of climate change have forcefully re-established
sustainability policy as a part of consumer policy. The need for
change in consumer behaviour and for more responsible lifestyles
on the demand-side of the economy is challenging conventional
concepts of consumer law and policy. While in particular EC policy
traditionally relied on information and other ‘light-touch’ instruments,
it appears timely to reflect on the effectiveness of this
policy and the expediency of measures intended to overcome persistent
barriers for sustainable consumption. Pending policy initiatives
about to be taken by the Community, this paper intends to
identify some of these barriers and depict the growth of sustainable
consumption policy in Europe. It presents the existent tools of
Community law and seeks to show the recently enhanced position
of sustainability policy in European politics. Beyond this descriptive
purpose the paper thereby purports to frame the debate on
sustainability policy and the law on the eve of a new political cycle
of the European Union.

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