A Research Companion to Water Transitions around the Globe
Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink
Chapter 13: European Union Water Policy: To Transition or Not to Transition? Coalitions as Key
Lena Partzsch 13.1 Introduction The European Union (EU) is a significant player in water politics. EU member and accession states are subject to its water policy formulation, in particular, the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). In addition, as an international policy leader and a major global donor, the EU also influences water programmes outside its geographic boundaries. Announced at the Johannesburg Summit in 2002, the EU Water Initiative (EUWI) has become the key strategy guiding EU policy on tackling global water problems (Map 13.1). In both EU domestic and external water policy, there have been important shifts in direction and approach that are referred to here as transitions. According to Sabatier (1993), such changes are only possible if new advocacy coalitions are able to pressure for change. I test this assumption by comparing success and failure in incorporating transitions in the WFD and EUWI. The WFD is particularly known for transitions to river basin management, public participation and water pricing and full cost recovery. These transitions are also sought by some participants of the EUWI. While adopted through the WFD, however, transitions in particular to water pricing and full cost recovery have so far not been accomplished and even face major opposition in external water policies. I aim to explain this difference by analysing and comparing the main policy entrepreneurs and strategies involved in the processes of the WFD and the EUWI. Thus this chapter contributes to the understanding of policy change and policy stasis. My research shows that significant...
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