Ambiguous ambitions in the Meuse TheatreThe impact of the Water Framework Directive on collective-choice rules for Integrated River Basin Management Leo Santbergen


Nobody owns the Earth’s water resources which are finite in nature and generally available to everyone. To prevent over-exploitation, common rules for their development and use are required. Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) is a concept which aims for such collective-choices. As adopted in October 2000, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) offers a set of governance and policy principles for a harmonised implementation of IRBM across Europe. Including several multi-interpretable terms and definitions, the directive is diluted by ambiguity. Consequently, its impact depends on how stakeholders in different policy domains at and across political levels within Europe’s river basins will translate its principles, environmental objectives, and exemption options.

In Ambiguous ambitions in the Meuse Theatre, Leo Santbergen focuses on the impact of the WFD on collective-choice rules within the International Meuse River Basin District. He analyses to which extent observed (resistance to) changes in these rules during the period 1990 to 2009 may be explained by the adoption and implementation of this European Directive. Process reconstructions and analyses are presented for interrelated political levels: the European Water Directors, the International Meuse Commission, and the Dutch national, regional, and local coordination networks. The analytical novelty of this book is the set-up and application of ideal-type collective-choice rules for IRBM as a benchmark to track incremental changes over time. This book should be of interest to policy-makers, water managers, policy advisers, scientists, non-governmental organisations, socio-economic interest groups, and students who are exploring the application of IRBM within Europe.

Leo Santbergen graduated at Wageningen University and Research Centre in 1991 (MSc Biology/Population Ecology). Since then he has held positions as water management coordinator, researcher, teacher, and writer in the field of integrated water resources and river basin management. Currently he is a senior policy adviser at the Brabantse Delta Water Management Authority.