EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy

Based on the findings of the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the European Commission has adopted the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy to improve their implementation and boost their contribution towards reaching the EU’s biodiversity targets for 2020. The Action Plan focuses on four priority areas and comprises 15 actions to be carried out until 2019:

  1. Improving guidance and knowledge and ensuring better coherence with broader socio-economic objectives
  2. Building political ownership and strengthening compliance
  3. Strengthening investment in Natura 2000 and improving synergies with EU funding instruments
  4. Better communication and outreach, engaging citizens, stakeholders and communities

The Plan is complemented by detailed factsheets providing more information on each of the 15 actions. Measures will be taken at EU level, but Member States and relevant stakeholders will also need to act, with increased support and assistance from the European Commission.

The Fitness Check has found that the Nature Directives are fit for purpose but that achieving their objectives will depend upon substantially improving their implementation ([1]). Improvements are needed in working in partnership with different stakeholder communities in the Member States across the EU to deliver practical results on the ground. The Fitness Check has also shown that, where targeted action takes place on a sufficient scale, the status of species and habitats improves, sometimes leading to remarkable recoveries. Moreover, there is increasing recognition that our natural environment underpins various sectors of our economy such as tourism. Conserving and using it sustainably offers ample opportunities to attract and encourage investment in nature protection.

On 8 July 2016, EUSTAFOR published a Position Paper on the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives and their implementation in State Forests. An improvement in the implementation was strongly recommended by ensuring a proper role for forest owners and managers, among others, in designing the implementation strategies and conservation measures included in Natura 2000 management plans. Furthermore, EUSTAFOR and its members also advocated a sound EU financing instrument, which enables compensation for the extra costs connected to the implementation of Natura 2000 measures and/or the income foregone due to restrictions on forest management.


The EU Action Plan was presented by the European Commission at the meeting of the Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives (NADEG), held on 3-4 May 2017 in Brussels. EUSTAFOR is a member of this group and follows its work. The presentation and all relevant documents are available under this link.

The broad presentation of the Action Plan will take place at a conference on the 6 June 2017 in Brussels.

Versions in other languages are available under this link.

[1] Commission Staff Working Document (2016) 472 final of 16 December 2016 Fitness Check of the EU Nature Legislation (Birds and Habitats Directives) .


Published 09/05/2017

Mr. Piotr Borkowski

Executive Director

Dr. Salvatore Martire

Policy and Communication Advisor

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