Misfits and compliance patterns in the transposition and implementation of the Habitats Directive—four cases

Pia Frederiksen*, Theo van der Sluis, Angheluta Vadineanu, Theano S. Terkenli, Veronika Gaube, Anne Gravsholt Busck, Jens Peter Vesterager, Nicoleta Geamana, Despoina E. Schistou, Bas Pedroli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the transposition and implementation of the Habitats Directive in four European member states, namely Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, and Romania, and the role that institutional misfits have played in more or less successful implementation processes. Departing in the ‘Worlds of Compliance’ literature, it also explores if this typology can be useful for understanding the ways member states address institutional adaptation pressures in the implementation steps following the transposition phase. The requirements in the Habitats Directive expanded most member states’ nature conservation frameworks, especially in the obligation to introduce pro-active conservation, and it also laid down a number of steps to be taken for creating the European Natura 2000 network. It was found that the transposition did mostly follow general compliance types, but that these types also helped understand the extent and adequacy of adaptations and changes to the institutional framework in the implementation processes following the directive’s adoption. Implementation challenges were different for different countries. They showed a need to align institutional frameworks for a) Natura 2000 in areas with several existing types of landscape protections and ensuing spatial and institutional overlaps; b) clarifying the roles and responsibilities of various authorities involved in implementation; c) ensuring coordination with the other sectorial policy areas that interact with the Habitats Directive (such as the Nitrate Directive and the Water Framework Directive). It turned out that there could be a need for more flexible and less-top-down European legislation, providing a larger room-for-manoeuvre for integration with domestic approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-350
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Environmental policy
  • Goodness of fit
  • Habitats Directive implementation
  • Institutions
  • Natura 2000 management
  • Worlds of Compliance


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