On 19 June the EU environment ministers committed to better implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the EU’s flagship nature laws that represent the cornerstone of EU-wide efforts to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. The four year evaluation “the Fitness Check” of the Nature Directives, where 500 000 citizens, all major political groups in the European Parliament called for better implementation of these vital nature laws, is now finally over.
The Birds and Habitats Directives are responsible for the creation of the largest and most coherent network of protected natural areas in the world – the Natura 2000 network. The biggest threat to nature conservation in the EU today are the current agriculture practices and the bad state of the EU’s freshwater ecosystems, often linked to water management and agriculture. The Ministers called upon national, regional and local authorities to do more to manage the protected areas in the Natura 2000 network.
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “The Member states and the European Commission have acknowledged the threat of unsustainable agriculture to nature in the EU. However, they have not yet come up with a credible solution. The EU’s broken Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to be reformed to facilitate a transition to sustainable agriculture. We count on the Member States and the Commission to show that they care about our nature when shaping the next Common Agricultural Policy.”
The Ministers also called on the Commission to produce a new estimate of the required investments in biodiversity protection, and asked for predictable, adequate, regular and targeted EU financing, and welcomed the initiative to better integrate ecosystems into decision making.
Importantly, the Ministers asked the Commission to come up with a proposal for a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure. Having such a network alongside the EU’s current Trans-European networks for energy and transport is essential, and will improve quality of life in the EU and offer a lifeline to regions currently affected by land abandonment.
Ariel Brunner: “While the Action Plan and the Trans-European network for Green infrastructure are important steps forward, the European Commission should also start and progress infringement cases. Many Member States continue to look the other way while Natura 2000 sites are being destroyed. Holding Member States accountable for the commitment they showed today will be crucial, and we count on the Commission to play their role as guardian of EU law.”
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BirdLife Cyprus is the national partner of BirdLife International, a unique global partnership of conservation organisations working locally to deliver long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.