Effectiveness of EU legislation in the context of local realities
|Main authors:||Susanne Wuijts, Jacqueline Claessens, Luke Farrow, Donnacha G Doody, Susanne Klages, Christophoros Christophoridis, Rozalija Cvejić, Matjaž Glavan, Ingrid Nesheim, Froukje Platjouw, Isobel Wright, Jenny Rowbottom, Morten Graversgaard, Cors van den Brink, Inês Leitão, António Ferreira, Sandra Boekhold|
|Source document:||»Wuijts, S. et al. (2021) Protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pressures: effectiveness of EU regulations in the context of local realities. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 6.3R 70 pp|
Results from this research task have also been published as a scientific paper:
- Wuijts S, Claessens J, Farrow L, Doody DG, Klages S, Christophoridis C, Cvejić R, Glavan M, Nesheim I, Platjouw F, Wright I, Rowbottom J, Graversgaard M, van den Brink C, Leitão I, Ferreira A, Boekhold S. 2021. Protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pressures: Effectiveness of EU regulations in the context of local realities, Journal of Environmental Management, 287:112270 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479721003327
In this section of FAIRWAYiS we draw on research on the coherence and consistency of EU directives and policies (»Coherence in EU law and policy for the protection of drinking water resources) and on the implementation of these EU directives and policies and governance arrangements in the 13 FAIRWAY case studies (»Governance arrangements in case studies), combining these materials with additional questionnaire responses to identify lessons that can be learnt about the coherence and consistency of the application of EU regulations, and their effects at the local level, using qualitative expert data for 13 local to regional governance arrangements in 11 different European countries.
Over the last decades, nutrients and pesticides have proved to be a major source of pollution of drinking water resources in Europe. Extensive legislation has been developed by the EC to protect drinking water resources from agricultural pollution, but the achievement of water quality objectives is still an ongoing challenge throughout Europe.
Two aspects of implementation have been studied:
- the national implementation and
- the experiences in the local to regional governance arrangements of the FAIRWAY case studies.
Information on the national implementation is necessary to better understand the national context of the case studies. Therefore reference is made to ‘countries’ whenever it concerns national implementation. Furthermore it should be noted that the scale of the case studies differs, from local (e.g. Island Tunø is a small island) to regional (e.g. Derg Catchment a transboundary catchment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) and relates to different focal points (e.g. local well pollution in Aalborg) versus regional optimization of fertiliser usages (Lower Saxony). Therefore reference is made to ‘local to regional case studies’.
The OECD Water Governance Principles are used as a framework for our analysis.
A data collection questionnaire relating to the effectiveness dimension of the OECD Water Governance Principles (2015) was completed by each of the FAIRWAY case studies.
»Data collection questioonaire
Questionnaire responses were aggregated per principle and per country for further analysis
»Questionnaire summary results
and according to (1) consistency of EU regulations, (2) coherence across sectors and levels, and (3) mode of implementation and the attainment of objectives at local level.
We conclude that the complexities and inconsistencies of European legislation drawn up to protect drinking water resources from agricultural pollution are visible most explicitly at the local level where cross-sectoral measures are implemented and effects monitored. This hampers local and regional efforts to achieve water quality objectives. The upcoming revision of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) creates an opportunity to strengthen the links between different directives and how they can be applied coherently and consistently at the local level. In addition, a more facilitated cross-sectoral approach should be adopted to improve stakeholder networks, both between institutional levels and hydrological scales, to attain policy objectives at the local level.