discharge permit procedures of the departments were not especially effective. A water quality planning system required by the EC, and similar to the Danish system, also proved to have little effect because the departments lacked data and qualified staff, and had to consult the River Basin Agencies (Holm, 1988).
Yet noting the progress made by the River Basin Agencies and the earmarked revenues should not obscure the fact that programme effectiveness has been undermined by a continuing struggle in France between centralised and decentralised powers. The status of the River Basin Agencies as independent bodies of decision-making has been challenged especially by the Ministries of Finance and the
Environment, who have institutionalised routines
used numerous measures to control and influence their priorities. of policymaking, with delegation of powers to non-environment
administrations at the department level and commune responsibility, impeded the system. The reform of the Loi de l’Eau was not sufficiently extensive, and applied only at the margin of existing regulations and authorities.
of the new
(Figure 4 here)
The achievements are mixed. With regard to industrial pollution, the concerted effort pertaining to specific industrial branches achieved in fact considerable reductions in discharges. From 1975 to 1987, discharges were reduced by 37 per cent, and reductions were especially significant in the pulp and paper industry and the chemical industry (see Figure 4). With regard to local sewage plants, results have been mediocre. In spite of France’s impressive water industry, by 1987 only 52 per cent of the population was supplied by sewage plants -- a share lower than either Spain or the former GDR (OECD, 1991). The main reason is that the communes lacked the necessary economic resources. Contrary to the Danish municipali- ties, they do not collect substantial local taxes, and they depend for most of their income on the state. Although the French municipalities are forced to pay the levy for their discharges into surface waters, they are financially unable to prevent those discharges by constructing sewage treatment facilities. The effect is to nullify the incentives of the economic instruments.
Germany: The Branch Guidelines Approach
Germany is a federal state, a situation that penetrates the policy-making process in general (von
Beyme and Schmidt, 1990). With regard to water pollution, the constitution delegates competence to the Länder level -- a delegation that until 1972 also applied to other pollution control areas. For that reason, the federal level has only recently exerted influence over environmental protection.
The first Water Household Act passed in 1957 was a very broad framework act, based on the lowest common denominator. It capped more than fifty years of efforts to enact a national water act. Since the late 19th century, local legislation had applied to different stretches of the same rivers, e.g. more than 70 different regulations to the river Rhine (Wey, 1982). Other acts followed. Following Willy Brandt's Environmental Programme of 1971, the Water Household Act was amended in 1976, introducing a coherent system of industrial branch guidelines. A Waste Water Levy Act was also passed in 1976.
The federal level has thus assumed framework legislative competence, although federal law has to be incorporated in Länder legislation, causing delays and differences in the legal text as well as in practical implementation. The cornerstone of the new regulatory system that was introduced in 1976 was the branch guideline system, and the waste water levy was seen as a supplement to this (Freige, Henning 1984). The guidelines prescribe specific technological standards to be achieved in each industrial branch, and firms that cannot meet these requirements are faced with a waste water levy. Because of opposition to