Following Old Paths or Shaping New Ones in Natura 2000 Implementation? Mapping Path Dependency in Instrument Choice.

Bouwma, I.M.; Liefferink, D.; Apeldoorn, D.F. van; Arts, B.J.M.


This article reviews the influence of two specific European Union (EU) laws, the Birds and Habitats Directives, on the choice of national policy instruments by Member States. Both Directives leave the choice for policy instruments to manage the sites designated under the Directives to the Member States. Using path dependency as a leading concept, this article analyses the continuity or changes in policy instruments due to the implementation of the Directives in 15 countries. This article shows that the tendency to use existing instruments to implement EU policy is limited, as in almost all countries new instruments were developed. Yet, states do tend to choose instruments from their predominant policy instrument mix and preferred implementation style to address the management requirements of the Directives. Additionally, in Central and Eastern European countries where the implementation of EU policy coincided with a process of transition to a market economy, new instruments were introduced outside the existing implementation style. The introduction of new policy instruments is the result of historical turns, domestic pressure and a shift to new modes of governance. National case studies are needed to shed more light on the interaction between EU policy and domestic factors during the process of instrument choice.