This manuscript examines the key contributions of the political science and systems theory based literatures on environmental governance, and uses them to analyse the governance of biodiversity in Europe. The manuscript suggests that the key insights of the two bodies of literature are a distinction between governance frameworks and regimes on one hand, and the importance of multifaceted and multiple scales on the other. These key insights draw attention to horizontal and vertical forms of interplay. The manuscript suggests that interplay, both between actors and levels and between frameworks and regimes, is ubiquitous and ambivalent: it can either foster or hinder environmental governance and overlapping governance frameworks are often used to pursue multiple governance goals. The manuscript draws on this discussion to analyse the governance of biodiversity in Europe, highlighting how vertical and horizontal interplay between the governance framework for biodiversity and the broader institutional setting or regime have characterised the implementation of the Habitats Directive, both complicating and fostering the governance of biodiversity in Europe.