The 1990s witnessed a debate on public-private partnerships and more consensual environmental policymaking to repair the "state failure" in conventional environmental regulation. One of the consequences in Europe has been new environmental policy arrangements that stand out by being both jointly formulated and/or implemented by the state and private actors and by having a voluntary element: joint environmental policymaking (JEP). Two questions are dealt with: (1) Are forms of JEP to be considered as innovations in environmental policymaking (political modernization) or rather as a continuation of the constant quest from capital for lowering the regulatory burden (deregulation)? (2) What is the influence of the broader political and institutional context on the emergence and functioning of JEP arrangements? In answering these questions a comparative study was carried out on three areas of environmental policy (packaging, industrial energy efficiency, and food labeling) in three comparable European countries (Austria, Denmark, and The Netherlands). It concludes that JEP in itself is neither evidence of political modernization, nor of deregulation. The specific political and institutional context is decisive in how JEP is organized and implemented, and with that the role it plays in environmental reforms.