Crossborder integration between The Netherlands and Belgium - The case of water quality in the Meuse River Basin

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The threat to water quality accelerated by population growth and climate change emphasizes the importance of the wise management of water resources and aquatic ecosystems to ensure that clean water continues to be available at an affordable cost in the future. While obstacles to successfully coping with domestic river management problems can be formidable; issues of pollution along with other problems on transboundary rivers appear to be particularly difficult to solve. The adoption of the water framework directive (WFD) in Europe aimed to solve those problems by reinforcing crossborder cooperation between riparian states. The aim of this research project is to examine the level of crossborder integration in the Meuse River basin between the Netherlands and Belgium on water quality, after the introduction of the WFD. In order to measure the effectiveness of co-operation the Policy Arrangement Approach (Arts & Leroy, 2006) and the 3 C’s (co-operation, coordination, collaboration) (McNamara, 2012) theories will be applied. This research is a single case study focused on the Meuse river basin with three sub parts: the Flemish-Dutch border area, the Walloon-Dutch border area and the shared catchment as a hole. Through semi-structured interviews, observations and a policy document analysis, the level of crossborder integration it is determined. Findings indicate that the integration in the area is at its infancy. Despite the high motivation and commitment of the partners, the findings demonstrate that the desired results are not achieved. To be fully efficient, the integration effort will need further improvement. Recommendations as to how these may be addressed are presented at the end of this research.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen