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Networks of cooperation: Water policy in Germany

Rudig, Wolfgang and Kraemer, R.A. (1994) Networks of cooperation: Water policy in Germany. Environmental Politics, 3 (4). pp. 52-79. ISSN 0964-4016

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German water policy-making defies easy categorisation. Policy processes are highly complex, fragmented, and diverse. Concentrating on the areas of drinking water supply and water pollution, the most important feature is the enormous importance of regional government in both the formulation and implementation of policy. The role of local government, and of municipal water utilities, is also crucial. The various forms of horizontal cooperation between individual municipalities and between the Lander are important, the latter having become particularly important as the Lander try to preserve their strong influence in the face of increasing policy activism by the EU. Historically, cooperative solutions have dominated much of policy development since the nineteenth century. In the face of powerful agricultural and industrial interests, the creation of networks of cooperation is still at the heart of policy, but the state relies less on authority or common interest than on exchange, with financial policy instruments coming to dominate. While water policy has been thoroughly reframed as part of environmental policy, environmental groups have played a relatively marginal role, although conflicts conceived in terms of local versus centralised water supply have gained some prominence in particular regions