Implementation of Natura 2000 for the offshore cross border Dogger Bank: the case of epistemic communities and multi-level governance.
This study aimed to investigate if an epistemic community developed during the implementation of Natura 2000 for the offshore North Sea in the period 2002-2010 and if a shift from type I multi-level governance (MLG) to type II MLG was observable during this period? An epistemic community is a transnational network of experts in a specific field who support decision-makers in defining problems, identifying solutions and assessing outcomes. MLG refers to the concept of several interacting authority structures, specifically between the EU policy level and member state national policies. Type I MLG can be characterized as general purpose and state centred and type II MLG as task specific, i.e. problem oriented, with selected membership and flexible design.
The findings are based on interviews with scientist and governmental officials and a literature review, including governmental publications and other secondary sources. From the analyses we found that an epistemic community was clearly observable with experts from Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, but not from Denmark. This community had a significant influence in the period 2002-2006, but it disintegrated under the influence of national framing of Natura 2000 implementation. A transition from type I MLG to type II MLG was not always clearly observable but at the end of the studied period a Member State driven cross border project was initiated. Aim of this cooperation on fisheries management in marine protected areas (FIMPAS) was to encourage regional collaboration and cross border spatial management.