MEPs overwhelming back nature laws

3rd February 2016


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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Built environment ,
  • Planning ,
  • Natural resources

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IEMA

A huge majority of MEPs voted against a revision of the EU birds and habitats directives at the European parliament yesterday.

Parliament backed the findings of a mid-term review of the EU’s biodiversity strategy by Belgian MEP Mark Demesmaeker. Rather than revise the laws, Demesmaeker concluded that the directives would be more effective if implementation and enforcement was improved and more money was made available for this.

The European commission is currently reviewing the directives as part of its ‘fitness check’, a move which has horrified environmental groups, which joined together in a pan-EU campaign to fight changes to the laws that attracted the support of 500,000 members of the public.

EU environment ministers expressed similar views at a meeting in December following publication of interim findings of the fitness check by consultants by the European Commission.

Faustine Bas-Defossez, senior policy officer for agriculture and bioenergy at campaign group EEB, said: ‘Fundamental contradictions in EU policies need to stop now. We can no longer afford having noble biodiversity objectives on the one hand and policies which undermine them on the other.

‘The elephant in the room is the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs citizens more than €50bn a year but does anything but ensure that money goes to those farmers who protect the environment.’

The report adopted by the European parliament also calls for other changes to the biodiversity strategy, including:

  • the creation of an EU pollinator strategy to tackle the negative impacts of agriculture on the wider countryside and biodiversity. Agriculture is identified as one of the main drivers of nature loss;
  • restoration of large areas across country borders to create corridors for species. This would also allow for better adaptation to the effects of climate change by reducing, for instance, the impact of flooding which is increasing in the UK and many other European countries; and
  • in line with the recently adopted sustainable development goals, EU governments should value and account for nature’s benefits for human wellbeing and reflect them in their national policies.

The commission is expected to publish the results of its fitness check on the nature directives in the spring.

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