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The use of policy appraisal in water policy making: Comparing WFD implementation in England and France

Boeuf, Blandine Gisele (2018) The use of policy appraisal in water policy making: Comparing WFD implementation in England and France. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Of all natural resources, water is particularly under pressure due to its intensive use. Therefore, it is vital to better understand the decision-making processes that could reverse trends in environmental deterioration. Policy appraisal tools can help decision makers develop sustainable public policies, as they support evidence-based policy choices. In practice, however, they are rarely used as a basis for decisions. In this context, this PhD has aimed to answer the following research question: How can we explain the different uses of policy appraisal - in particular of economic analysis – beyond evidence-based policy making in water decision making? To this end, I studied the case of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC) and the use of cost-benefit analysis in its application in the United Kingdom and France, as recent examples in which economic-based policy appraisal plays, in principle, a key role. I showed that appraisal tools could reflect political objectives and environmental policy ambitions in two ways. Firstly in the choice of the appraisal tool itself, which follows a specific logic. Secondly, the operationalisation of the tool selected may be influenced by political goals. As a consequence, the use of policy appraisal for evidence-based decision making can partly be explained by the discrepancy between the output of the appraisal and the political objectives pursued. More generally, I found that the politics stream – i.e. the political context - determines the presence and importance of appraisal tools in the policy process and explains further uses, in particular in problem definition and policy formulation. I also provided an empirical contribution to the knowledge on WFD implementation in member states. I explained the process of setting objectives and exemptions in two member states, and the role that economic analysis played in the decision-making process. I showed that ambitions related to the implementation of the WFD, and the political context more generally, shaped the decisions on the analytical tools used and that choices made in the operationalisation of these tools partly influenced the protection standards of individual water bodies. These results imply that debates on the use of policy appraisal in WFD implementation should go beyond experts’ circles and be considered in the political sphere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: EU Environmental Policy; Water Framework Directive; Exemptions; Economic Analysis; Disproportionate Costs; Policy Appraisal
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745634
Depositing User: Ms Blandine Gisele BOEUF
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018 11:50
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:57
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20917

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