Over the last years, the EU has adopted a large number of environmental directives. These are also to be implemented in Norway due to the EEA Agreement. It is therefore interesting to take a look at how Norway, known as being an environmentally friendly nation, has followed up on the directives. Furthermore, how can one explain the successes and failures of the implementation?
I have conducted a multiple case study of two directives which were adopted in the beginning of the 1990s: the Urban Waste Water Directive and the Nitrates Directive. The study has focused on both their formal transformation into national legislation and the behavioural changes of the target groups influenced by the policy. I have then tried to explain their degree of implementation with the help of three explanatory principles mainly taken from organisational theory. They are based on a model developed by Johan P. Olsen (1992) and discuss the significance of the institutional environment, institutional factors and interests involved in the processes.
My findings were that neither of the two directives had been properly transformed into Norwegian legislation, and that only the Nitrates Directive had resulted in behavioural changes among its target groups. The causes were mainly to be found within the variables of the theoretical framework. The organisational structure and disagreement between the involved parties were the principal reasons for the low degree of formal implementation of the Nitrates Directive, whereas cultural discrepancies and high adaptation pressure caused the failure of the Urban Waste Water Directive. As for the practical follow up, the Nitrates Directive turned out to be a success although it was not properly transformed into Norwegian legislation. The reason for this was found in the close match with the North Sea Declarations and low costs. The Urban Waste Water Directive implied very high costs and small benefits for the target groups. Consequently, the implementation score was low. Another important finding of the study was the importance of searching for explanatory variables at the sector level. It is not national factors alone that influence implementation, but also the different characteristics of the various sectors, and these should be paid attention to.