Magnetic law: Designing environmental enforcement laws to encourage us to go further

Suzanne Kingston*, Edwin Alblas, Mícheál Callaghan, Julie Foulon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The European Union has some of the world's most ambitious and highly developed environmental laws on its books, but their effectiveness is severely compromised by non-compliance. With the UNECE Aarhus Convention (1998), Europe launched an innovative legal experiment, democratizing environmental enforcement by conferring third party citizens and environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) with legal rights of access to environmental information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters. Based on some 2000 surveys and over 150 interviews with stakeholders from three Member States – France, Ireland, and the Netherlands – we adopt a holistic, 360° perspective, capturing the views of regulated parties, NGOs, and the general public on this private governance experiment. Our data provide important new insights into the practical effectiveness of Europe's laws enabling private environmental enforcement, its (intended and unintended) effects on farmers' compliance decisions in the vital area of nature conservation, and how law might be used to stimulate pro-environmental predispositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S143-S162
JournalRegulation and Governance
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • compliance
  • crowding-out
  • European governance
  • nature conservation law
  • private enforcement


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