After a long period in the doldrums, federal approaches to understanding the EU have recently undergone a renaissance. However, some of their core claims remain somewhat ambiguous and many have still not been sufficiently tested empirically. This paper identifies several claims, namely that they: provide a taxonomic tool to classify the EU; permit direct comparisons to be made with other federal entities; allow scholars to re-analyse and re-interpret EU integration; and, critically, explain the allocation of decision-making powers (or tasks) across multiple levels of governance. In testing the value of the federal 'turn' in EU scholarship, this paper subjects the last of these claims to empirical testing within the area of environmental governance - a policy area where one might expect a federal perspective to be especially insightful due to its multi-level nature. Drawing on three relevant federal theories (namely fiscal federalism, regulatory federalism and, co-operative federalism), this paper concludes that each sheds new light on the interminable question of EU task allocation, but none is capable of entirely replacing established theories of European integration.
environmental policy European Union federal federal theory multi-level governance task allocation