How science-policy relations change: implementing EU environmental policy in Poland

Katarzyna Kowalczewska

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The role of science in society has been in multiple directions, including more interactional and more participatory models. Today, a societal trend is towards more complex and interactive models of knowledge production that include users and many other relevant stakeholders. The European Union (EU) plays an important role in steering science, policy and society relations in these directions. It does so by emphasizing co-production of science and policy, involvement of users and other stakeholders in policy process, and basing policies on good quality science. This emphasis is given in through the research culture in the EU and EU research programming. Moreover, the EU culture and institutional context of policymaking and policy implementation includes specific ideas about how science and expertise should contribute to policy development and effectiveness.

The influence of the EU on science-policy relations affects all member states,  but convergence of EU- with national research and policy culture is sector specific and varies significantly among countries. Poland is a country that has struggled to comply with the EU environmental policy requirements for multiple reasons. At the same time, it is exemplary for a host of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries where many national processes related to formulating agricultural and environmental policies as well as science-policy relations today are being steered by the EU policy processes. Accordingly, the PhD thesis investigates how science-policy relations in Poland are being shaped by the EU policy processes; how these relations are actively managed in specific policy projects and programmes; and how they are affected by user and policy demands that are made of knowledge and expertise.

The thesis is based on four journal articles, each of which discusses a specific case. The results of the thesis show that the process of Europeanization strengthened the existing top-down structure for policy-driven knowledge in Poland. Even so, it also added specific new requirements for knowledge that led to new administrative structures and more cooperative styles of science-policy interactions, as was the case for the implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive in Poland. As science-policy interactions often remain challenging for both policymakers and scientists, two additional case studies in the thesis discusses the work of knowledge brokers and the use of boundary objects to align supply and demand of knowledge and communication processes between science and policy. Taken together, these cases also show that different policy demands for usable knowledge in environmental and rural development policy steer choices of Polish policymakers towards different science-policy models.

The PhD thesis concludes by reflecting on how the EU has its own cultural and institutional ways of managing science-policy relations. In turn, these tend to steer science-policy relations towards a specific science-policy model that may be considered an EU ideal. Poland does not follow this ideal completely, which the thesis points out as one of the reasons why the country struggles with the implementation of EU environmental law. Nonetheless, the thesis argues that having the Polish style of science-policy relations is legitimate in its own right.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Turnhout, E., Promotor
  • Behagel, Jelle, Co-promotor
Award date27 May 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463439619
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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