The policy transfer of environmental policy integration:
path dependency, route flexibility, or the Hungarian way?
The idea of Environmental Policy Integration (EPI) and the policy tool Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) have come to the fore in European policy making over the past two decades. This article examines the introduction and implementation of SEA at national and sub-national levels in Hungary. It evaluates the factors affecting the process of international lesson-drawing in environmental policy based on empirical evidence. The article concludes that, just like in other policy fields, the process of lesson-drawing has been shaped and constrained by domestic governance structures and key endogenous factors embedded in socio-cultural settings. Structure and factors are featured by transience and path dependency at the same time. Hierarchical governance has the most significant influence on the process excluding voluntary forms of policy transfer hence resulting in the application of a stapled EPI, formal, instead of substantive transfer. Environmental policy transfer at the local level is problematic due to the low capacity and the lack of the financial means and human resources. It suggests that the EU principles of subsidiarity have been undermined. The article therefore makes an important contribution to understanding the key obstacles of (environmental) policy transfer. Additionally, reforming the theory of policy integration the author argues that beside the transactive, substantive and procedural aspects (the level of) path dependency should be taken into consideration to a better grasp of the effectiveness of policy transfer.