Main authors: Matjaž Glavan, Špela Železnikar, Sindre Langaas, Gerard Velthof, Susanne Wuijts, Sandra Boekhold, Susanne Klages, Claudia Heidecke, Marina Pintar
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: Glavan M.J. et al. (2019) Evaluation report on barriers and issues in providing integrated scientific support for EU policy. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 7.1 25 pp

 

1. Desk study

A desk study was carried out as a basis for the workshop and interviews. The desk study focused on the following topics:

  1. agriculture and water in the EU,
  2. evidence-based policy making in the EU, and
  3. implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

A nonsystematic review of relevant scientific literature was carried out using scientific databases such as Scopus, Web of Science, Science Direct and Google Scholar. Other information was obtained from websites of the EU and the internet.

2. Workshop and interviews

A workshop on the “Evaluation of the issues and barriers around providing integrated scientific support for EU policy” was held in Brussels, Belgium, on 6 December, 2017. The workshop was led by a FAIRWAY project partner, the University of Ljubljana. The workshop method was based on a World Café workshop type with a duration of 3 hours. The primary objective of the workshop was to discuss with representative EU-level actor organizations the role of the science and research sector in EU policy making and EU policies implementation related to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides originating from agriculture.

There were four main questions discussed at the workshop:

  • Q1. What do you consider the main issues on the EU level related to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture in the EU?
  • Q2. What do you consider the main barriers in solving the issues in the EU policies related to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture in the EU?
  • Q3. In your opinion, how is the relationship between science and policy in the EU policies reflected in EU legislation and its implementation, with particular attention to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture?
  • Q4. In your opinion, how can the system at the EU level be improved, i.e., what are possible solutions to enhance role of integrated scientific support for EU policy and its implementation related to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture?

Each question was hosted by a table host, who led the discussions. There was a 15 min round per question. Altogether, 9 participants from EU-level actor organizations and 1 participant representing the H2020 project were divided into two groups (Table 1). At the beginning of each round, the table hosts briefly shared vital insights from the prior conversation, so the new group could link and build on ideas from previous rounds if they wanted to. After 10–13 min, the table hosts started collecting ideas and forming short summaries of opinions of the groups and wrote them on sticky notes, used later in the main discussion. After the break, the main discussion followed in which the table hosts presented the main opinions, which were formed into final statements by all participants.

Invitations to participate in the interview were sent in three rounds to 31 identified individuals representing top EU-level actors (European Commission [EC], European Parliament, councils, associations, federations, companies, and partnerships) with knowledge in the field of drinking water and agriculture. Altogether, the response to our inquiries was five interviews with EC and some other representatives (Table 1). The primary objective of the interviews was to gather opinions of actors unable to attend the workshop.

The interviews were performed via telephone calls with a duration of about 20 min. Interview questions were the same as the workshop questions. We decided to use the same questions to gain a more in-depth insight on the topic of issues and barriers around providing integrated scientific support for EU policy. 

Table 1: Representative EU-level actor organizations attending the workshop and interviews.

EU-level Actor Organizations that Participated in the Study
Workshop Interviews
European Fertilizer Blenders Association (EFBA), 
Research and Advice in Agriculture and Horticulture (Inagro),
European Centre of Employers and Enterprises Providing Public Services and Services of General Interest (CEEP),
European Federation of Bottled Water (EFBW),
FERTINNOWA H2020 project,
European Federation for Water Services (EurEau),
Aqua Publica Europea (APE),
European Energy Forum (BDEW),
European Water Partnership (EWP),
European Forum for Agricultural and Rural Advisory Services (EUFRAS)
European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture (EIP AGRI) focus group (adviser),
European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation,
European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development,
Independent Flemish Research Organization (VITO)
WATERPROTECT project leader,
Wageningen University and Research (WUR)
FAIRWAY project leader 

1.3 Limitations and uncertainties

The main limitations of the workshop and interviews are related to the relatively few EU-level actors that were involved in the study. For the interviews we identified 31 individuals and for the workshop 29 EU-level organizations from 3 sectors. These included 9 from the agricultural sector, 11 from the water sector and 9 EC organizations (Directorate-General [DG], EIP). The response rate of the organizations that joined the workshop was 34%, which was an 18% higher participation rate than was received with the interviews. The difference is likely because we invited organizations to the workshop, not specific individuals, so organizations had a broader spectrum of representatives to choose from. In the case of the interviews, it was challenging to get in touch with the invited representatives, as they did not respond to e-mails or phone calls, not even after three attempts. Because answers to specific questions were collected from specific individuals representing science and policy, and due to the limited sample size, it is possible that the answers reported by workshop and interview participants reveal a limited representation of the average opinion of EU-level actors.

 


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