The first EU Forest Strategy was adopted in 1998 to provide general guidelines for an EU forest policy designed to coordinate other EU forest-relevant policies. The implementation of the first strategy was done under the auspices of the EU Forest Action Plan, covering the period from 2007 to 2011. The Forest Action Plan was a tool that facilitated voluntary cooperation between EU Member States (no enforcement capabilities), with some coordinating actions being implemented by the European Commission. The reason for returning to the Forest Action Plan in this article is to provide further insight into how it was employed by EU Member States—in contrast to the majority of similar articles on the topic, which are primarily concerned with an examination of EU forest-relevant policies by either analyzing the impact of EU decision-making on forestry at the national level or studying EU Member States’ influence on the EU rather than how EU Member States actually react to EU strategies. This paper addresses this empirical gap and highlights the significant variations of the Europeanization effects on EU Member States when deciding upon and implementing a non-legally binding policy instrument when compared to legally binding policy instruments. Individual Member States exhibit varied strategies when implementing a soft policy instrument, as their respective decision spaces are substantially different, particularly when the costs and benefits of complying are not comparable to those of a legally binding instrument. These results highlight the need for a more nuanced and varied approach to the implementation of soft policy instruments by the EU, with the additional implementation strategies suggested in this article being presented to assist in meeting this need for variation.
*This paper is co-authored by the researcher from the Forest Policy Research Network
Full reference: Filip Aggestam & Helga Pülzl, 2020. "Downloading Europe: A Regional Comparison in the Uptake of the EU Forest Action Plan," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(10), pages 1-15, May.