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Miljökvalitetskrav eller miljökvalitetsnormer? Reflektioner med anledning av en rapport om Sveriges implementering av ramvattendirektivet

Journal article
Authors Christina Olsen-Lundh
Published in Nordic Environmental Law Journal
Volume 2014
Issue 2
Pages 61-94
ISSN 2000-4273
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Law
Pages 61-94
Language sv
Keywords miljökvalitetsnormer, ramvattendirektivet
Subject categories Environmental law


On behalf of the Swedish Committee on Environmental Objectives (Miljömålsberedningen), Magnus Fröberg and Ulf Bjällås have conducted a study mainly on the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The results of the investigation were presented in a report dated the 29th of March 2013. The purpose of their work was to clarify whether the WFD: s environmental objectives of good status in the aquatic environment in the Union are implemented in Swedish law in a “legally correct” way. A further purpose was to investigate and analyse whether the directive’s environmental objectives might be considered implemented in a “functional” way. An essential part of the authors’ report is based on their conclusion that the obligations imposed by the WFD on the member states’ are so called obligations of best effort, and not obligations of result. In the context of their work this becomes highly important since, according to the authors, the demands placed upon the member states are greater when obligations of result are at hand. And even more important as the authors let this conclusion form the basis for their further analysis of the WFDs implementation requirements. The WFD was adopted in 2000 and its implementation in the member states is in many respects a complex process; mainly due to the difficulties interpreting its fourth article (which the authors points out) and its many alternative interpretations. This complexity urges the necessity to make use of and discuss previous legal research (which is both voluminous and well-known). However, despite the authors’ ambition to take a comprehensive approach, they fail when it comes to address and discuss available doctrine, official reports and studies. The authors’ analysis is also conducted without any explicit or discernible method, and their own perspective is not outlined; whether it is the perspective of the legislator, the authorities, the environment, the operators or the courts remains unclear. And whether legislation is deemed “functional” or not depends on the chosen perspective. These methodological shortcomings, combined with the initial conclusion on obligations of best effort have clearly affected the authors’ subsequent conclusions in the report. Probably this is the reason to why important implementation issues, such as e.g. the deterioration ban, have been ignored in the authors’ analysis. Nor is there any critical examination of the extent to which existing Swedish legislation might be an obstacle to the implementation of the WFD.

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