Since 2005, several cost benefit analyses have been performed for the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) in The Netherlands. These analyses had in common that they were meant to support the decision-making process by informing policy makers and making the trade-offs as transparent as possible. The analyses also anticipate questions from the Dutch Parliament. Nevertheless, each time the analyses were slightly different, depending on the situation and (political) questions that had to be answered. This article presents the background and the highlights of the various analyses, describes their differences and similarities and tries to find a common thread in the results. Even though the results are barely comparable for a number of reasons, they seem to indicate that such a line exists and that economic analyses have played a role in the decision-making process by making tradeoffs more explicit. This has offered the opportunity for an iterative dialogue with the Dutch Parliament, which contributed to a decision-making process which resulted in a socially accepted programme of measures that is economically sound and transparent.

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