Abstract This paper examines the prospects for the interactive governance of water and land use following an initiative to institutionalise integrated river basin management. Taking an institutionalist perspective it first presents river basin management as a tool for overcoming problems of spatial fit and institutional interplay over water and land use. A case study of the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Germany then explores opportunities and requirements for governance in future water management. On the basis of these findings the paper tests the validity of the thesis that the success of EU policy reform depends on the degree of ‘fit’ with existing institutional structures and practices.

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