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The new kids on the block – Building environmental governance in the Western Balkans

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The influence of the EU over environmental policy frameworks, plus the availability of project funding for ENGOs in acceding and candidate states across post-socialist Europe has significantly shaped action repertoires, issue agendas and patterns of mobilisation. It has also been claimed that EU intervention has determined the institutionalisation of ‘green’ civil society networks by the introduction of, for example, environmental impact assessment (EIA) processes and policy-making norms that emphasise intersectoral partnership and multilevel governance. However, research on the impact of EU assistance for environmental mobilisations in Bosnia–Herzegovina and Serbia reveals the extent to which EU intervention and influence builds professionalism, but only partially institutionalises recipient ENGOs; if they are accorded political access at all, it is ephemeral and within less contentious policy areas where they are encouraged to deliver expertise and assistance rather than to act as advocates for community interests or to express political opposition to contentious developments. This article concludes that the professionalisation and increased managerial capacity of a handful of ENGOs cannot be equated with good governance and with the institutionalisation of non-governmental actors. Indeed, increased professionalism is invariably confined to a very narrow spectrum of policy enactment and is insufficient to generate environmental governance in the absence of state or governmental capacity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Politics, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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