EU Nature Directives declared “Fit for Purpose” – Strengthen implementation but no revision of Natura 2000 legislation foreseen
On 7 December 2017 the College of EU Commissioners held an orientation debate on the next steps of the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The College concluded that these Directives are vital for Europe’s nature conservation policy and no reopening of the legislation is necessary, however, their implementation needs to be improved. The College conclusion goes along with the findings of the extensive evaluation process, the so-called Fitness Check the Commission has been carrying out since late 2014.
The evaluation identified the need to improve the implementation of the Directives and their coherence with broader socio-economic objectives, including other EU policy areas such as energy, agriculture and fisheries. Consequently the Commission will develop an Action Plan to correct the deficiencies encountered in the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The Action Plan will contain a series of concrete measures such as holding regular meetings with mayors and other local authorities to assess implementation challenges and help Member States take the necessary corrective action. Moreover, the Plan will design, in partnership with Member States and relevant stakeholders, appropriate implementation guidelines for regional actors, reducing unnecessary burdens and litigation, and incentivizing national and regional investment in biodiversity.
EUSTAFOR was involved in the public consultation of citizens and stakeholders across all EU Member States. The main College conclusions are coherent with EUSTAFOR’s recommendations spelled out in the association’s Position paper published on 8 July 2016, in which EUSTAFOR strongly advocates an improvement in the implementation of the two directives by ensuring a proper role for forest owners and managers and by setting up a sound EU financing instrument to enable compensation for the extra costs.