In this paper we focus on identifying some of the important sociological dimensions of the process of environmental governance through a review of European regulatory frameworks and instruments, specifically in regard to the European Union's Fifth Action Programme on the Environment (5EAP). We show that such policies and the institutions and social networks that promote them are locked into wider social dynamics in the political regulation of European economic and social integration and development. We argue that the 5EAP is a 'redrafting of Rio' in the context of these processes of regulation and integration rather than a systematic rearrangement of society-economy-environment relationships. These processes can be described through the three political dynamics of veto, deflection and differentiation. Focusing on the level of political dynamics provides methodological resources that can contribute to the programme of research developed by the Regulation Approach (RA) (Jessop, 1994a et passim), in particular by accounting for the conflicts and struggles between organised socio-economic actors rather than their (quasi-functionalist) cohesive structural relations that serve a dominant 'strategic line' of accumulation.