Public participation under the EU water framework directive - processes and possible outcomes

Sharon Hophmayer Tokich

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The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which went into effect in 2000, places public participation (PP) at the center stage of water management as part of its integrated approach to water management. It calls for PP in order to ensure protection and a sustainable use of the European river basins (Huitema et al., 2004). Although the Directive provides strong stimulus for PP, the exact form of the implementation is left to the Member States. Member States, however, often have limited experience and reserves regarding PP in policy making as many decision makers still have little understanding of the advantages it holds. The NOLIMP-WFD (North Sea regional and Local IMPlementation of the Water Framework Directive) is a collaborative project involving regions in six countries of the North Sea: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (Scotland). All these countries face similar problems with regards to the implementation of the Directive. Thus, the project's aim is to gain experience with the implementation of the Directive on local and regional levels by applying its concepts and procedures in pilot projects. One of the topics that were applies in the pilot projects, is PP. The NOLIMP partners' experience with PP may be of value to other EU Member States as they all need to implement the Directive and may face similar difficulties. Based on the NOLIMP experience with PP, an attempt will be made to draw conclusions with regards to the benefits of PP. This paper is a general introduction to the topic of PP under the WFD and its goal is to present this topic as a background to the NOLIMP experience with PP. It discusses the issue from the water managers' point of view, and mainly answers the question why should these decision makers deal with PP. The discussion revolves around the two forms of meaningful PP, as prescribed in the WFD: consultation and active involvement
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • METIS-310519
  • IR-95377


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