The internal and external face of Dutch environmental policy: A case of fading environmental leadership?
SourceEnvironmental Science & Policy, 81, March 2018, (2018), pp. 18-25
15 december 2017
Article / Letter to editor
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Onderzoekcentrum voor Staat en Recht
Environmental Science & Policy
iss. March 2018
SubjectEuropeanization of Policy and Law (EUROPAL); Principles of Public Law; Grondslagen van het publiekrecht
With regard to European Union (EU) environmental directives, member states seem to show a discrepancy between external ambitions as expressed in the European arena, and realisation of these ambitions at home. Depending on the level of their internal and external ambitions, states may ideal-typically take four positions: laggards, symbolic leaders, pioneers or pushers. Furthermore, the actions of member states can be characterised with the help of different types of leadership: structural, cognitive, entrepreneurial and exemplary. Taking the case of the Netherlands, we hypothesise that there is an external face, operationalised with reference to the Dutch role in the formation process of four major environmental directives (air quality, nature conservation, agricultural pollution by nitrate and water quality), and an internal face, observed through the practices of domestic implementation of those directives. Looking at environmental policy processes over time, the gap between external and internal faces actually widened as practical implementation evolved. We conclude that the overall development of the Netherlands as an environmental leader was influenced not only by changes in the wider political and societal environment, but also by an increasing awareness of the discrepancy between the country’s external and internal faces. In the more recent cases, especially water quality, the focus of leadership shifted from substantive to governance ambitions. Despite a waning implementation record, the Netherlands still shows forms of entrepreneurial and, particularly, cognitive leadership.
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