In a first step we reconstruct the emergence and content of European Union environmental policies and their underlying normative ideas. These policies have become increasingly important since the 1970s such that today the EU expects member states actively to protect the natural environment even at the price of less economic freedom and higher financial costs. We then analyze the extent to which citizens support the idea of protecting the environment. Overall the approval rating for the EU ecological ideas is rather high, and environmental protection is an integral component of European citizens' values. Nevertheless, not all countries support this to the same degree. Citizens of EU-15 countries show higher levels of support for having the environment take precedence over economic claims than do citizens in Accession I and II country groups and in Turkey. As regression analysis shows, the level of support depends on several factors. The most important ones are a country's level of economic modernization and its citizens' post-material value orientation.