While bioinvasion was an issue of low political salience in Europe, a new regulation addressing it was adopted in 2014 with strong support. This article analyzes the making of the regulation as an intriguing case of policy expansion amid economic crisis. Based on theoretical literature on drivers of EU policy integration and policy dismantling, alternative plausible explanations are explored. Our main finding is that development of economic policy consensus among member states on trade-environment nexus was crucial for progress towards regulatory action. Policy consensus has been driven by a confluence of three domestic factors: trade liberalization, market disintegration, and changing ideas about the desirability of EU-level law, with the European Commission as policy entrepreneur. Low political salience has also had an important effect. It has increased the influence of transnational conservation alliances, which have played a significant catalytic role in building consensus by shifting consciousness to economic reward of policy action vs inaction, and bringing international models for legislative reform to the EU jurisdiction.
- Environmental policy expansion
- European Union
- bioinvasion regulation
- policy dismantling