Networked environmental governance in the European Union: who participates and (how) do they learn?

Twena, M (2012) Networked environmental governance in the European Union: who participates and (how) do they learn? Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia .

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With its traditional (i.e. legislative) modes of governance coming under fire due to their perceived lack of legitimacy and effectiveness, the European Union (EU) has increasingly turned to more flexible means of policy cooperation. One example is the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), which can be viewed as a more decentralised way of coordinating national policy though peer review and mutual learning. Although recent findings suggest that the OMC has largely failed to deliver its promise of a more participatory (legitimate) and learning-based (effective) policymaking style, there have been few detailed studies analysing OMC-like processes in a heavily regulated sector, such as the environment, where the potential for synergies between traditional and new modes exists. Fewer still have been underpinned by theory.
To address these gaps in the literature, this thesis explores two mature cases in environmental policy: the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) and the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL). It derives diagnostic criteria to analyse the prevalence of OMC-type characteristics in these processes, and develops a theoretical framework founded on new institutionalism, to explore whether and how OMC fosters participation and learning, and how informal networks operate alongside existing legal processes (e.g. as rivals or complements).
Findings reveal that the sociological institutional perspective is more optimistic about the capacity of OMC processes to coexist alongside traditional modes. It demonstrates that OMC’s horizontal and deliberative format, most evident in IMPEL, can achieve context-sensitive learning through the socialising process of peer review. Meanwhile, rational choice institutionalism sees the iterative nature of OMC as an opportunity for strategic learning, which leads to greater (often more formalised) institutional harmonisation – something most strongly displayed in the ECCP case.
In both networks, a subtle extension of established participatory patterns is detected. Learning is found to be most transformative when OMC processes are more recursive and less politicised, often at the early and late stages of the policy cycle. These findings suggest OMCs can perform a valuable feedback function, and may represent a bridge between policy cycles, thus filling a gap typically missing from traditional processes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2014 10:32
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2014 10:32


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