Policies of the European Union cover a range of social, environmental and economic aspirations and the current environmental directives and laws have evolved from a suite of norms which have changed over time. In a newly publiched paper, AQUACROSS partner Tim Higgins (University College Cork, Ireland) identifies these norms informing environmental legislation in the European context with a particular focus on their relevance to the biodiversity strategy in marine and freshwater aquatic environments. Three dominant norms in European environmental legislation are identified. These may be characterised loosely according to ‘Three Ps’: Practical, those taking an anthropocentric approach; Pure, those taking an ecocentric approach and Popular, those appealing to the general public. In this paper the author uses these three perspectives as a tool to analyse the complexity and identify contradictions in European aquatic environmental legislation. Some trade-offs between development and conservation are identified and used to characterise the potential qualities of more successful agency to achieve environmental goals in the governance of European aquatic environments.

The paper has been published open access and can be accessed online here or as a pdf here.

This paper is closely related to the work completed in Deliverable 2.2: Review and analysis of policy data, information requirements, and lessons learnt in the context of aquatic systems.