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Implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive: A policy perspective on regulatory, institutional and stakeholder impediments to effective implementation


  • van Leeuwen, Judith
  • Raakjaer, Jesper
  • van Hoof, Luc
  • van Tatenhove, Jan
  • Long, Ronán
  • Ounanian, Kristen


The implementation of the European Union (EU) Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires EU Member States to draft a program of measures to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES). Central argument of this paper, based on an analysis of the unique, holistic character of the MSFD, is that social and political factors are having a major influence on this MSFD implementation process. More specifically, four potential impediments have been identified that are curtailing the drive towards the effective implementation of the scheme advanced by the Directive. First, scientific uncertainty about aggregated ecological pressure and drivers in relation to the different sectors clouds the definition of national programmes of measures and this in turn may lead to implementation-drift in achieving GES. Second, the scale of the ecosystem is different from the political and socio-economic scales of individual, sectoral decision-making and activities. Third, policy coordination is required on several levels, i.e. at the EU level, within the Regional Sea Conventions, at national level and between these three levels. Finally, the coming together of both stakeholder involvement organized for the MSFD and those of existing, sectoral policy domains makes fair and efficient stakeholder involvement challenging. This paper concludes that more attention should be rendered to establishing appropriate coordination and communication structures, which facilitate greater engagement with the different Directorates-General in the European Commission, the European Council and the Parliament, the Member States, sectoral decision making institutions as well as stakeholder interest groups.

Suggested Citation

  • van Leeuwen, Judith & Raakjaer, Jesper & van Hoof, Luc & van Tatenhove, Jan & Long, Ronán & Ounanian, Kristen, 2014. "Implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive: A policy perspective on regulatory, institutional and stakeholder impediments to effective implementation," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PB), pages 325-330.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:50:y:2014:i:pb:p:325-330
    DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2014.03.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Curtin, Richard & Prellezo, Raúl, 2010. "Understanding marine ecosystem based management: A literature review," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 821-830, September.
    2. De Santo, Elizabeth M., 2010. "'Whose science?' Precaution and power-play in European marine environmental decision-making," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 414-420, May.
    3. Ounanian, K. & Delaney, A. & Raakjær, J. & Ramirez-Monsalve, P., 2012. "On unequal footing: Stakeholder perspectives on the marine strategy framework directive as a mechanism of the ecosystem-based approach to marine management," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 658-666.
    4. Aanesen, Margrethe & Armstrong, Claire W. & van Hoof, Luc, 2012. "The changing environment of fisheries policy in Europe," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1172-1177.
    5. Salomon, Markus & Dross, Miriam, 2013. "Challenges in cross-sectoral marine protection in Europe," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 142-149.
    6. Fritz, Jan-Stefan, 2010. "Towards a 'new form of governance' in science-policy relations in the European Maritime Policy," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-6, January.
    7. van Leeuwen, Judith & van Tatenhove, Jan, 2010. "The triangle of marine governance in the environmental governance of Dutch offshore platforms," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 590-597, May.
    8. Espinosa-Romero, Maria J. & Chan, Kai M.A. & McDaniels, Timothy & Dalmer, Denise M., 2011. "Structuring decision-making for ecosystem-based management," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 575-583, September.
    9. Fanning, Lucia & Mahon, Robin & McConney, Patrick & Angulo, Jorge & Burrows, Felicity & Chakalall, Bisessar & Gil, Diego & Haughton, Milton & Heileman, Sherry & Martínez, Sergio & Ostine, L'ouverture , 2007. "A large marine ecosystem governance framework," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 434-443, July.
    10. Mahon, Robin & Fanning, Lucia & McConney, Patrick, 2009. "A governance perspective on the large marine ecosystem approach," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 317-321, March.
    11. Tallis, Heather & Levin, Phillip S. & Ruckelshaus, Mary & Lester, Sarah E. & McLeod, Karen L. & Fluharty, David L. & Halpern, Benjamin S., 2010. "The many faces of ecosystem-based management: Making the process work today in real places," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 340-348, March.
    12. van Leeuwen, Judith & van Hoof, Luc & van Tatenhove, Jan, 2012. "Institutional ambiguity in implementing the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 636-643.
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    Cited by:

    1. Langlet, David, 2018. "Scale, space and delimitation in marine legal governance – Perspectives from the Baltic Sea," MarXiv sfqyn, Center for Open Science.
    2. Kraan, Marloes & Hendriksen, Astrid & van Hoof, Luc & van Leeuwen, Judith & Jouanneau, Charlène, 2014. "How to dance? The tango of stakeholder involvement in marine governance research," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PB), pages 347-352.
    3. Bigagli, Emanuele, 2015. "The EU legal framework for the management of marine complex social–ecological systems," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 44-51.
    4. van Hoof, Luc, 2015. "Fisheries management, the ecosystem approach, regionalisation and the elephants in the room," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 20-26.
    5. Raakjær, Jesper & van Tatenhove, Jan, 2014. "Marine governance of European Seas: Introduction," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PB), pages 323-324.
    6. van Tatenhove, Jan & Raakjaer, Jesper & van Leeuwen, Judith & van Hoof, Luc, 2014. "Regional cooperation for European seas: Governance models in support of the implementation of the MSFD," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PB), pages 364-372.


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