Copy-Paste? Explaining Homogeneous EU Implementation Patterns Among Local Implementing Agents

Elena Bondarouk, Pieter Zwaan

Increasingly, EU law provides (local) implementing agents leeway for taking practical policy measures, amongst others, by specifying procedural over substantive requirements. Despite this room for manoeuvre to deal with local conditions, we find local governments adopting surprisingly similar measures. Typically, they follow either more generally accepted standards being developed at a more central level, or copy (successful) practices from others. In this article we assess these (normative and mimetic) isomorphic mechanisms (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983) and analyse under which conditions these mechanisms are triggered and will have an effect on the implementation of EU policies on the ground. We do so by analysing the practical implementation of the EU air quality directive in a number of Dutch municipalities and comparing their local air quality plans. The analysis shows that open ended provisions will be adapted to local conditions only, when local government have sufficient administrative capacity to do so.

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