For better or worse, the EU matters. It covers a large part of the European continent, has over half a billion citizens and represents 20% of the world economy. In terms of our environment, policies end legislation adopted by EU institutions have profound effects on biodiversity and ecosystems across Europe and indeed around the world.
Most environmental legislation in EU Member States is nowadays shaped by EU law. Agriculture and fisheries, key sectors with an extraordinary level of environmental impact in terms of over use of agrichemicals and unsustainable industrial fishing practices, are essentially managed through common EU policies. For instance, the EU Life Fund has probably been the most influential source of conservation funding in large parts of Europe.
For over two decades BirdLife Europe has worked to improve EU policy making and to ensure proper implementation of EU environmental policies in Member States. Over the years, we have been instrumental to bringing improvements to hunting legislation and to the designation of the Natura 2000 Network - the largest network of protected areas in the world, covering 17.5% of EU territory.
We have been one of the main driving forces behind successive reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy and have been one of the first organisations to sound the alarm over the mistakes the EU has been making in relation to the development of biofuels.
On a wide range of policies affecting wildlife and the environment, we have been a constant voice of power, translating scientific understanding and hands-on field experience into policy solutions. Our dialogue with EU and national decision makers is based on a pragmatic approach, standing up for what our values and scientific evidence tells us.
Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy explains our policy work
On Monday 6th May the European Commission launched a new strategy to encourage the deployment of green infrastructure. The strategy also revealed a clear policy signal to ensure that the enhancement of natural processes that provide multiple benefits, such as green infrastructure, becomes a systematic part of spatial planning. This is a key element of the implementation of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy towards 2020.
Air pollution threatens climate, environment and human health. Each year approximately 500,000 people die prematurely from the direct consequences of poor air quality throughout the European Union. NABU (BirdLife in Germany), in collaboration with eight European green NGOs, has launched a tree year project aiming at developing concrete measures and solutions for a cleaner air in European ports and cities. The timing is perfect since clean air will be the focus of EU environmental policy discussions throughout 2013, the European Year of Air.
The latest scientific data brought together by BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council show that common farmland birds continue to decline in the EU: 300 million farmland birds have been lost since 1980.
On Wednesday 27 June, the day before EU leaders come together in Brussels for a first top-level negotiation round on the future EU budget 2014-2020, the Environment Committee of the German Federal Parliament adopted a ground breaking decision calling for a significant strengthening of the EU's environmental programme LIFE.
The Council is under pressure to achieve partial agreements on the key EU policy reforms by the end of the Danish Presidency (June 30th). Furthermore, the meeting of the Heads of States on June 28 and 29 will be key to set the priorities for the EU Budget 2014-2020 in the context of tackling the economic crisis.