APPLES, MILK, AND WASTE: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF HUNGARY'S ENTRY INTO THE EUROPEAN UNION
Professor Gille will spend the fall semester of 2003 in Hungary, conducting research on the environmental implications of Hungary’s accession to membership in the European Union (EU). She expects that this new affiliation will not only finalize the transition from socialism to markets and democracy but also greatly improve the country’s environmental situation.
Her expectation of environmental progress is founded on the environmental regulations and funds available for such purposes within the EU. Based on her previous research experience, however, she intends to treat the EU not merely as an institutional mold but as a powerful agent of economic and cultural globalization with interests that cannot be captured solely by analyzing its policies and law. She will thus study this relationship ethnographically, researching and analyzing how people in different social positions experience, influence, and resist the processes this historical change entails.
Ultimately, she aims to answer these questions: Who bears the costs of environmental Europeanization? What social groups are allowed to shape the actual implementation of EU policies? What happens when existing Hungarian regulations and expertise are superior to those of the EU (as is the case with conservation and food safety) and when long-term exemptions are given from adopting EU environmental standards (as is the case with waste treatment and recycling)? She will answer these questions through two socially relevant cases: (a) the “Europeanization” of apples, which speaks to conservation, and (b) the future of packaging and industrial wastes, which speaks to exemptions. The study will provide a grounded understanding of the relationship between globalization and environment.