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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Understanding cross-scalar interactions and the role of management paradigms in the transformation of European marine governance

Anja Betker is a doctoral researcher at the Guest Professorship Environmental Governance at Humboldt-University of Berlin and a member of the IRI THESys Graduate Program. Her research focuses on cross-scalar interactions, institutional change of European marine governance and ecosystem-based marine management.

Photo: With almost half of Europe’s population living within 50km of the sea and using its resources, the pressure on the ecosystem ocean and the marine environment is constantly rising.


The seas and oceans are a resource that requires more cross-national cooperation than other resources might do, as it spreads across national borders and efforts of one country to protect the ocean can easily be disturbed by contradicting actions of a neighbouring country. Consequently, marine governance is becoming more complex, spanning an increasing number of jurisdictions in national and international policy making, and raising the question about the role of cross-scalar interactions among different levels, such as between member states, the EU and regional sea conventions. In 2008 the European Commission adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which aims at achieving Good Environmental Status by 2020 in all European marine waters. It extensively prescribes how European member states are to organize marine governance, which is particularly interesting, as the MSFD is deeply grounded in the paradigm of ecosystem-based management (EBM). However, different stakeholders might have different understandings on what EBM is and how to best operationalize it. Hence, sometimes incompletely understood paradigms challenge management practices and raise questions regarding the role they play for processes of cross-scalar interaction in shaping marine governance. Thus, questions of my research are:

  1. What roles different levels and spheres in which European marine governance is organized play and how they interact, and
  2. What understandings do stakeholders involved in marine governance at different scales hold with regard to ecosystem-based marine management? How have these paradigms evolved, and what effect do they have on institutional change?

The research will have a case study approach using four different countries: Germany, Spain, Portugal and Norway.


Anja Betker graduated in Political Science from the Free University in Berlin (M.A.) and holds a B.A. in Governance and Public Policy from the University of Passau. During her studies in Berlin she has worked as a student assistant for the Environmental Policy Research Centre. Before starting her PhD at the Guest Professorship of Environmental Governance in 2013, she has worked for six month in Brussels for an environmental stakeholder organization.




Anja Betker, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 (0)30 2787 - 9093
E-mail: anja.betker@hu-berlin.de