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Toward post-sovereign environmental governance? Politics, scale, and EU Water Framework Directive

Corey Johnson
Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, USA;

ABSTRACT: The EU Water Framework Directive (EUWFD) of 2000 requires that all EU member states "protect, enhance and restore" rivers to attain good surface water quality by 2015. To achieve this mandate, member states divide themselves into watershed basins (River Basin Districts) for the purposes of monitoring and remediation, even if those districts cross international borders. This paper examines three key elements of the rescaling of governance along watershed lines. First, I draw on a cross section of literatures on territoriality of the state and the changing regulation of nature to argue that analyses of the EU tend to privilege the nation-state as an ontological starting point. Second, the EUWFD as a rescaling of environmental gvernance is explored. The third element of the paper considers the relationship between the de- and re-territorialisation of environmental governance on the one hand, and the changing character of sovereignty in the EU on the other. On this basis, the paper argues that the EUWFD represents a hybrid form of territoriality that is changing the political geography of the European Union and that the redrawing of political-administrative scales along physical geographical lines provides evidence of the emergence of a new, non-nested scalar politics of governance in Europe.