Europe and Central Asia
5 Oct 2016

The Hunt for Green October

By Christopher Sands

Autumn is truly here – birds yearn to fly south but are anxious about doing so until knowing that the Nature Directives, so critical to protect them during their travels, will be left unmolested by the European Commission. First Vice-President Timmermans has been unequivocal in his belief that when something isn’t “broke”, you don’t try to “fix” it. As the Commission’s own study proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Birds & Habitats Directives need no revisiting, no tinkering – indeed, they just need better implementation and financing.  The Commission committed itself to an autumn decision and yet we, and the birds awaiting flight, are left hanging uncertainly.

We are unclear why this heaven-sent opportunity for the Commission, President Juncker and Vice-President Timmermans to resoundingly show European citizens that EU democracy works – and that the EU listens to her people – shouldn’t be seized right now. You have to ask – who is pulling the strings here?  In the face of so many attacks against the notion of the EU, and amidst  threats to leave it and other efforts which undermine its essence, now is not the time for President Juncker and Vice-President Timmermans to equivocate, dawdle and show a lack of leadership by failing to deliver such a potential win for the EU’s reputation.

Yes, it’s ‘The Hunt for Green October’. From this inexplicable paralysis on the Directives, to the clear and ringing endorsement from the Stakeholder Platform for a CAP Fitness Check where business, NGOs and others defied Member State inaction on CAP Reform, we are on the hunt.  In October, we are also preparing to enter the murky waters of unbridled bioenergy: we’ll be calling on the EU to cancel its current ‘blank cheque’ approach and to produce a balanced new proposal that distinguishes between ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of this complicated renewable.  

The firm endorsement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals recently expressed by Vice-President Timmermans in New York, which we applaud, is part of the same value system that underpins support for strengthened Birds & Habitats Directives. And a coherent and consistent, and democratically responsive position, requires the Commission to release their decision now.  


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.