Multi‐level Environmentalism and the European Union: The Case of Trans‐European Transport Networks


In the European Union, trans‐European transport networks (TENs) are a vital element in the constitution of one European space in order to enable the free movement of people and goods throughout the Union. Their construction, however, often causes environmental degradation. Opposition to EU politics is mostly voiced at the level of individual nation‐states. As the case of TENs reveals, however, protest against European policy projects with environmental side effects can take the form of ‘multi‐level environmentalism’, linking lobbying and ‘conscientization’ in Brussels with direct action at the national and local levels. Civil society theory, social movement theory and governance theory help ensure a theoretically informed answer to the question of how the resistance to TENs is organized and framed. By questioning dominant problem definitions and solution strategies, environmental movements and movement organizations, both in Brussels and in the individual nation‐states, point to the possibility of looking at social and political reality from another, non‐hegemonic point of view. In this way, they contribute to challenging the often biased technocratic, growth‐oriented character of the European Union.