Environmental Engineering Reference
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of crucial institutional aspects. As a result of the consultation process, the following
CIA likely to constrain the implementation of the EU Nitrate Directive were
suggested and are presented here for illustrative purposes 14 :
Strong bargaining power of farmers' associations:
Implementation of mandatory measures restricting the use of fertilisers in
designated vulnerable zones affects directly the production costs of farmers in
these zones, often leading to income losses. Yet, the (degree of the) concrete
restrictions is determined by the respective Member States or regions. Here, it is
assumed that a strong agricultural lobby might be able to weaken these mandatory
restrictions, or to obtain exception clauses. Thus, strong farmers' associations
might hamper the effective implementation of the EU Nitrate Directive.
Information asymmetry state versus firm and high level of opportunism:
Information asymmetries between public administrations (state) and agricul-
tural producers can be conceived as the result of problems on part of the state
to control and monitor the activities of firms. These problems depend, among
other things, on the ability (technical/knowledge/human resources) or even
willingness of the administration in charge to monitor and, if applicable,
sanction actors' behaviour, but also on the characteristics of the resources (and
the related activities to be monitored) concerned. Mandatory measures to
reduce water pollution by nitrates are difficult - or very costly - to observe and
to measure, e.g., the exact amount of nitrates applied per hectare. Thus, farm-
ers' non-compliance with prescribed restrictions is not easy to detect and/or
non-compliance cannot be associated clearly with single farmers since nitrates
diffuse slowly into often large groundwater basins. Furthermore, it is assumed
that high levels of opportunism on part of the farmers concerned are likely to
exacerbate the problem leading to high costs for controlling necessary to deter
actors from cheating.
PICA Step Three: Linking Crucial Institutional Aspects
to Institutional Indicators
As a result of PICA Step two, the PICA expert team suggests a restricted list of CIA that
is considered to be of particular importance for assessing the effectiveness and cost-
effectiveness of implementing the selected core element of the EU Nitrate Directive.
14 We do not claim that the CIA presented here are indeed the most relevant crucial institutional
aspects related to the selected core element of the EU Nitrate Directive. Yet, we deem them to be
reasonably relevant and sufficiently plausible since they are based on the extensive literature
review mentioned above and on discussions within the PICA group.
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