Eleonora Kyriakou wins Unilever Research Prize 2021

Alumnus Public Administration Eleonora Kyriakou of Erasmus University Rotterdam has won the Unilever Research Prize 2021 for her research on compliance with EU environmental directives in the 27 member states. Her research shows that non-governmental organisations are not able to put pressure on national governments in environmental matters. Citizens' perceptions of the importance of environmental issues can exert domestic pressure on Member States' compliance with EU directives.

Over the past decade, the EU has adopted various laws aiming to curb CO2 emissions, improve air quality, increase the efficiency of waste management systems, etc. Yet, there are differences in the extent to which governments comply with EU environmental directives. Why are some Member States better at implementing EU environmental standards? Can non-governmental organisations, such as NGOs and climate change activists, effectively influence their governments in making environmental decisions? To investigate these questions, Eleonora Kyriakou used advanced analytical methods in her thesis. She looked at whether non-government organisations influence compliance with EU environmental directives in EU Member States.

Governments listen to their citizens
The research shows that non-state actors in the environmental field are not able to exert pressure on national governments. This is particularly the case when considering organised civil society interests. For example, membership on the two largest transnational networks- the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) – does not improve the implementation of EU environmental directives. However, governments do seem to be listening to their citizens, as citizens' perceptions of the importance of environmental and climate change issues at home can pressure member states' compliance with EU directives.

From the nomination report: “Eleonora went beyond the thesis requirements by collecting her own dataset and independently applying advanced statistical methods. Her master thesis shows ambition, entrepreneurship and sophistication in terms of analysis."

Eleonora graduated with a 9 for her thesis for the International Public Management and Policy master's degree on the thesis "Scaling down non-compliance? The role of non-state actors on member states' compliance with EU environmental directives, under the supervision of Dr Asya Zhelyazkova. She currently lives in Cyprus and is looking for a suitable PhD position in the Netherlands.

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, media relations ESSB, 06 83676038, kooistra@essb.eur.nl

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