The implementation of environmental policy in Ireland

Lessons from translating EU directives into action

Bernadette Connaughton
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EU environmental directives illustrate the challenges involved for the effective implementation of European Union policies. This book explores the response of Ireland’s political-administrative system to the implementation of environmental directives in the cases of waste management, water reform and biodiversity. Ireland represents the implementation challenges of a small EU member state with a weak background in environmental governance, and has struggled to adapt to the complexities of enforcing environmental rules. This has resulted in infringement proceedings and critical rulings against Ireland from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The book details how efforts to comply with these measures have been a source of significant pressure on Ireland’s institutional framework but have also prompted considerable learning and adaptation in environmental governance. Using a theoretical framework inspired by traditional implementation analysis and insights from the Europeanisation literature, the book traces the implementation process in three directives. The main conclusion of this study is that Ireland’s implementation performance in waste management, water reforms and nature conservation is influenced by the low issue salience of environmental policy and the need to overcome structural problems in the public administration system in order to give effect to EU legislation.

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