Europe and Central Asia
2 Feb 2016

European Parliament Votes for Nature

Photo © European Parliament
By BirdLife Europe

In a huge vote at the European Parliament this lunchtime, Europe’s political representatives have stood up to defend key under-threat EU nature laws.

By an overwhelming majority of 592 to 52, MEPs voted to approve a report on the Mid-term review of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, which calls for the protection of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The report was an ‘own-initiative report’ led by the Belgian MEP Mark Demesmaeker.

The report stresses that full implementation and enforcement of these laws, collectively known as the Nature Directives, are needed to achieve the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy runs until 2020 and by which time the EU has to halt biodiversity loss and achieve six targets. These targets cover EU legislation on nature, agriculture, fisheries, and invasive alien species, and also initiatives for restoring and connecting nature areas and action for biodiversity outside the EU.The result of the vote from the European Parliament

The decisive result for nature conservation took place today in the Parliament’s plenary chamber in Strasbourg, where MEPs meet each month.

The call to save the laws has come about due to the ‘Fitness Check’ process currently being carried out by the European Commission on the laws, known collectively as the Nature Directives. There are fears they could be re-opened, and potentially weakened.

Today’s result comes after a number of national governments showed their support for the directives, with the EU Environment Council opposing their re-opening back in December.

A massive level of support from the public has also been demonstrated, with more than half a million people, a record-breaking number, backing the laws during a consultation which ended last July. Further, in the lead up to today’s vote, thousands of people across Europe Tweeted to MEPs urging them to back the report.

Responding to today’s vote, Ariel Brunner, BirdLife Europe’s Senior Head of Policy, said: “The Parliament has today sent an unequivocal message to Timmermans and Vella: you have no mandate to re-open the Birds and Habitats Directives, but you do have a strong mandate to get them enforced and implemented.
“With such an unprecedented majority backing this message, it would be inexcusable for the Commission to choose to ignore it.”

The vote in Parliament is another milestone for the Nature Alert campaign, led by BirdLife and other conservation organisations, calling on the European Commission to protect the Nature Directives and improve their implementation, rather than re-open them.

Results from the Fitness Check are expected in April.

More information on the Mid-term review report is available here.

For more on the Nature Alert campaign, click here.

More information on the Twitter action in the lead-up to today’s vote is available here

For a full breakdown of how the MEPs voted, click here (scroll to Page 30).

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.