European Standards and Waste Management in Ireland - Examining the Local Implementation Deficit

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Quinlivan, Aodh
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The European Union policy concerning the protection of the environment and natural resources has grown steadily since the 1980s. The so-called 'Earth Summit' (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 increased the pace and represented a universal attempt at global sustainability. McCormick (2001:168) provides an indication of the scope, depth and volume of EU environmental decision-making by outlining that the EU has adopted 85 laws, a myriad of strategies and a broad variety of policy initiatives since the 1980s in the area of waste management alone. However, the existence of substantial legislation does not necessarily imply the adoption of best practice procedures in member states. Andersen and Eliassen (2001:17) demonstrate some of the difficulties of incorporating EU laws and directives through national and politic-administrative systems and emphasise 'the interplay between legislation and implementation'. Knill's (1998) contribution is also valuable in arguing that national adaptation depends on the level of embeddedness of existing national structures. Despite the proliferation of EU law on waste management, McCormick (2001:168) notes that "the EU does not yet have a common waste management policy". Perhaps this reflects Sbragia's assertion that European environmental policy is driven by a tension between the proponents of stringent standards and the reluctant actors, within and between countries. The formulation of environmental policy resembles a process which has been described by Haas (1993) as the 'leader-laggard' dynamic. On environmental matters, the 'leader' countries tend to be Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands and often it is their domestic politics which drive the Community's policy process along (Sbragia, 1999). This paper seeks to assess Ireland's position in this dynamic, primarily in the area of waste management. In so doing, it will examine the burden of implementation which has been placed on local authorities and will highlight recent Irish legislation which has removed the power of decision-making from democratically elected representatives.
Waste management policy , Waste management politics
QUINLIVAN, A. 2002. European Standards and Waste Management in Ireland - Examining the Local Implementation Deficit. Administration, 50 (2), pp.67-79
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