Agri-Environmental Policy in Germany: Understanding the Role of Regional Administration
With regard to agri-environmental schemes under Regulation (EC) No. 1257/1999 in Europe a rather divers uptake as well as a lack of effectiveness and efficiency of these current schemes can be observed. In contrast to most of the related literature, we suggest that the ineffectiveness and inefficiency is inherent to the way those schemes are currently institutionalised in the framework of European agricultural policies. The paper draws on experiences made within the GRANO research project on Approaches for Sustainable Agricultural Production in Northeast Germany. Among other sub-projects, round tables, so-called Agri-Environmental Forums (AEF), were installed in two districts in Brandenburg to integrate local actors directly into the process of designing and implementing local agri-environmental schemes in order to improve their economic and ecological efficiency. While the participants were successful in designing such local scheme, it did not become part of the Rural Development Plan in Brandenburg. Based on this case study, we argue that the process of designing agri-environmental schemes in Germany can be conceptualised as a rather complex negotiation process at Laender level. The institutional settings in which this negotiation process takes place shape the possible outcomes and, thus, the design of the schemes. With only passive support for decentralised and participatory approaches, yet compulsory complex bureaucratic procedures on part of the EU, there are no incentives for the administration at Laender level to actively support those approaches. Further, it can not be expected that the lack of effectiveness and efficiency can be wiped out completely from the current European Agri-environmental Policy framework. Therefore, we have to drop the assumption that agri-environmental issues in general can be solved through agri-environmental schemes alone.
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