Inderscience Publishers

Beyond limits and efficiency, what? Assessing developments in EU water policy

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This paper documents a transformation of EU water policy from a standard-based approach towards a more diverse policy combining ecological, economic and social elements with an emphasis on institutional and participatory aspects. This is marked in a new Water Framework Directive. Analysis is supported by a theoretical discussion of different approaches to sustainability and recognition of the deadlock of an ecological limit vs. economic efficiency dichotomy. While an approach originating from works in institutional and ecological economics and emphasising processes, justice and collective decisions seems to break this impasse, it is not without its own conceptual problems.

Keywords: EU water policy, EU directives, sustainability, limits, economic efficiency, participation, institutional economics, ecological economics, European Union, Water Framework Directive, ecology, economy, society, water resources management, water management

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