Law in Integrated and Adaptive Governance of Freshwaters : A Study of the Swedish Implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive

Abstract: Water is essential for sustaining life and providing ecosystem services for different human needs. In 2000, the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted against the background of increasing pressure on the waters of Europe. With the WFD, a new approach to governing freshwater resources within the Union was introduced, aimed at facilitating a shift from fragmented and sectoral water policies to a more holistic, integrated and adaptive governance system at the hydrological scale of river basins. This thesis has examined the Swedish implementation of the directive, with a primary aim to determine whether the Swedish formal institutional framework and water administration are sufficient to fully implement the freshwater governance model provided by the WFD and achieve the environmental results prescribed. The thesis consists of two main parts, where the first provides the contextual framework for the thesis, and the second part consists of four appended papers, which all in different ways contribute to achieving the overall purpose of the thesis. The thesis is founded on legal analysis and qualitative text interpretation of various sources of law, with emphasis on the analysis of national law in light of the WFD as well as EU legal principles and case law developed by the CJEU.The results show that the Swedish freshwater governance system and formal institutional framework encompasses opportunities as well as barriers for implementing the WFD. The governance arrangements reflect the hydrological requirement of the directive, and the Swedish system holds good opportunities for participation in decision-making procedures as well as adaptive potential, as the general legal framework for environmental and water law contains a relatively high degree of flexibility or adaptable rules.However, when analysing the Swedish freshwater governance system in light of four key functions (objectives and direction; administrative structure; adaptive capacity; and control and enforcement) identified in this study as crucial for the formal institutional framework to deliver in such integrated, adaptive and multi-level governance systems the WFD represents, the results reveal that central aspects of all four key functions are missing in the Swedish system. Due to these shortcomings, the overall conclusion is that no full regime shift towards the hydrological, adaptive and integrated system of the WFD has occurred in Sweden; the system for water planning and governance is not clearly reflected in the formal institutional framework nor sufficiently underpinned by the administrative structure at national level. Ten different proposals are presented to remedy the shortcomings.