Europe and Central Asia
26 Nov 2020

New European Court of Auditors report on marine environment: “EU protection is wide but not deep”

© Lian Tomtit / Unsplash
By Bruna Campos
Today, the European Court of Auditors released a new report explaining why the state of nature at sea has not benefited from what EU legislation has set out. In short, it’s because EU countries have not committed any money to implement the laws.
This report follows damning publications released earlier this year, with the European Environmental Agency shining the light on the dire state of nature at sea. The Commission also reported that the EU has not achieved Good Environment Status by 2020 as set out in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. 
This report comes at a critical time as the negotiations on the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) continue – and it only reinforces what BirdLife has been saying all along: stop wasting citizens’ taxes on harmful subsidies and invest it in nature, where the opportunities are endless; to support local communities, create jobs and help restore nature.
The money coming out of the EMFF is spent however governments decide to spend it, and as the European Court Auditors point out, until now, it has not been spent on protecting nature at sea. A recent report from Croatia illustrates the extreme nature of this problem where not one euro of the EMFF was spent on nature protection between 2014 - 2018.
While governments give lip service to spending on nature as important, they ask for this flexibility to decide later how to spend the money so that they don’t need to report back on how they’ve been spending it. This is nonsense which goes against good governance. Furthermore, given the recent decision to track biodiversity spending, they will need to do it anyway.
Governments who do not want to ring-fence 25% of the EMFF – which is not nearly enough to save nature at sea – are actually saying that while they like to talk about their commitments to nature, they don’t want to implement legislation which will result in actual protection of the marine environment.

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