Commission study’s ‘fit for purpose’ verdict on EU nature laws backed-up by new EEB report

credit: Mark Hamblin

Findings (1) from a team of experts hired by the European Commission as part of its ongoing review of EU nature laws (2) suggest the rules are up to the job of protecting Europe’s wildlife and habitats. The evidence shows that there is no need to modernise or weaken EU nature laws as, where fully implemented, they have proven to be effective and deliver far more benefits than they cost.

Representatives from conservation NGOs and industry, as well as national policymakers, will discuss these preliminary findings at a high-level conference in Brussels today (3) before a full report is due early next year.

Campaigners from the NGOS behind the ‘Nature Alert” campaign to protect EU nature laws – the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), BirdLife Europe, Friends of the Earth and WWF – will hold a colourful awareness-raising stunt outside the conference (4).

EEB Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity, Leonardo Mazza reacts: 

The evidence couldn’t be clearer – EU nature laws are up to the task of safeguarding species and habitats. If anything we need better implementation and enforcement of existing rules and more funding to help better put the rules into practice across Europe.”

These findings resonate with the first-hand accounts gathered by the EEB for its latest report – ‘Europe’s Nature Laws Matter’ – which features interviews with 17 people from 11 EU countries with direct professional experience of EU nature laws (5).

Leonardo Mazza comments on the report:

From Portugal to the Netherlands, from Bulgaria to the United Kingdom, we’ve found there is a clear appetite for more implementation and enforcement of Europe’s nature laws. And it’s not just environmentalists calling for the laws to be maintained – to name just a few, we’ve spoken to farmers, hunters, drinking water providers and electrical grid operators who all support upholding the Birds and Habitats Directives because of the positive impact they have had on their sector’s activities.”

Just a few weeks ago nine EU environment ministers and a group of influential MEPs from across the political spectrum sent letters (6) to Environment Commissioner Vella calling on him not to revise EU nature laws, echoing demands made earlier this year from over 500,000 citizens who want our nature laws to be kept intact and better implemented and enforced (7).

Leonardo Mazza continues:

We hope that the European Commission will take heed of the growing support for our nature laws and listen to both citizens and their representatives calling for the laws to be better implemented and enforced.

Given the mounting evidence (8) which shows that nature is in dire straits across Europe, there is an urgent need for making sure the existing legislation is backed up with sufficient financial means and resources to fully deliver on the ground. It’s also time to seriously address policies which have had very detrimental effects on Europe’s wildlife, in particular the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) which supports ever more intensification of farming, and offsets many of the benefits EU nature laws deliver.”

The European Commission is expected to publish the full outcome of its review of EU nature laws in May 2016.


Notes to editors:
(1) The Draft Emerging Findings report was prepared for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment by a consortium led by Milieu Ltd, and including the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEЕР), ICF International and Ecosystems Ltd.
(2) As part of its ‘Better Regulation’ drive the European Commission is in the process of carrying out a Fitness Check of EU nature laws (the Birds and Habitats Directives) which draws upon evidence, data and information gathered through a structured process over the period January-July 2015.
(3) Conference on the Fitness Check of EU Nature Legislation – more information here.
Watch live here
(4) Photos from the NGO-organised photo stunt will be available here as of midday on 20/11/15:
More info for journalists on the stunt:
(5) Read the EEB report ‘Europe’s Nature Laws Matter’
(6) Read the letter from the governments of Germany, France, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Romania to Environment Commissioner Vella.
Read the letter from MEPs
(7) Read more about the Nature Alert campaign.
(8) A State of Nature report by the European Environment Agency found in May that the majority of habitats and species in Europe have an unfavourable conservation status and that biodiversity is on the decline, and in October the mid-term review of the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity strategy found that the EU is not on track to halt biodiversity loss.

For more information:

Emily Macintosh, Communications Officer - Nature and Agriculture

+32 2 274 10 86

Commission study’s ‘fit for purpose’ verdict on EU nature laws backed-up by new EEB report
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