Operationalising active involvement in the EU Water Framework Directive: Why, when and how?
We identify two key stages in the river basin planning process under the Water Framework Directive: the selection of instruments for a programme of measures to achieve the environmental targets, and disproportionate cost analysis to determine whether selected measures involve high costs. Some EU member states such as Denmark are operationalising these two key stages using cost effectiveness analysis and cost–benefit analysis. However, implementation guidelines encourage the active involvement of all interested parties in the implementation of the Directive. We discuss the potential benefits of actively involving non-state actors, which can be summarised as increasing the effectiveness of policy and improving its implementation. Criticising the emerging economic decision-making approach, we argue that economic analyses could result in a missed opportunity to capitalise on the potential benefits of involvement. The article discusses the appropriateness of actively involving the public during the two aforementioned decision-making stages and suggests concrete ways in which active involvement may be operationalised. We conclude that member states should not implement a minimum form of participation to comply with the statutory requirements of the Directive, but should strive for active involvement due to the potential for increasing the effectiveness of the Water Framework Directive and improving its implementation.
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