The Water Framework Directive in Spain – Limits to participation?

The Water Framework Directive is the flagship water legislation of the European Union. It is premised on several modern ideas on water governance, including the notion that water should be managed on the basin scale, that users must pay for their water, and that water decision must be taken in a participatory way. In a new article in the journal European Planning Studies, our colleague Marc Parés i Franzi from the Autonomous University in Barcelona took a closer look at the notion of participation in the way Spain implements the Water Framework Directive.  The abstract reads as follows: “In recent years new forms of governance have emerged in Europe engaging actors beyond the State in the act of governing. Water policy in general and basin management in particular, through the EU Water Framework Directive, is clearly one of the policies affected by these new forms of steering. Through two case studies carried out in Spain this article analyzes how in a few years hydro-politics in Europe has moved from a stage of social contestation to a new scenario of consensual governance. Wondering about the democratic qualities of these mechanisms and questioning the role of civil society on them, the research shows important differences in objectives and forms between social movements and the State around these new forms of governance. (…) The reproduction of geometries of power and the impossibility of tackling a political debate about the given framework of values established in a neo-liberal and market-driven context make the participation of civil society on governance mechanisms really difficult in terms of freedom and equality”.  Follow the link to the article.

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