Commission consults on future of bird and habitat laws

1st May 2015

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  • EU ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems



A consultation to review the costs and benefits of the birds and habitats Directives has been launched by the European commission.

The consultation, published yesterday, asks if the directives have met their objectives, what the costs and benefits have been, and if positive outcomes could be achieved through national laws rather than EU-wide regulation.

When the new commission was announced in September, president Jean-Claude Juncker tasked the commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella, with reviewing the Directives to "assess the potential for merging them into a more modern piece of legislation".

Member state governments have already been asked for detailed evidence by the commission, as have NGOs and public sector bodies involved in nature conservation, marine and fisheries and tourism.

The commission will also be holding meetings in 10 member states, including the UK, later this year to examine evidence in more detail. The meetings will focus largely on: "evidence related to costs and excessive or unnecessary administrative burden linked to the directives, and the reasons behind them, as well as implementation challenges and successes," says the commission.

Sandy Luk, head of our wildlife and fisheries programme at Client Earth, which has been involved in discussions on the directives, said she thought that the evidence gathering by the commission had so far been very thorough.

"We think the directives are really important. Though there may be implementation issues, the structure and content is strong," she said.

The economic value of the directives is higher than the cost of implementing them, she added.

Dr Elaine King, director, Wildlife and Countryside Link, which is coordinating the NGO's response to the consultation, said: "The habitats and birds Directives are the cornerstone of environmental protection across Europe, providing demonstrable benefits for both nature conservation and the economy. When implemented effectively, the Directives enable development to take place without harming nature.

The link is working with its 44 members, along with its sister links in the devolved countries, to defend the Directives from being weakened, she said.


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