Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press release - 19 June 2017

EU ministers commit to better implementation of nature legislation

Today the EU environment ministers committed to better implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the EU’s flagship nature laws that represent the cornerstone of EU-wide efforts to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. The four year evaluation “the Fitness Check” of the Nature Directives, where 500 000 citizens, all major political groups in the European Parliament called for better implementation of these vital nature laws, is now finally over.

The Birds and Habitats Directives are responsible for the creation of the largest and most coherent network of protected natural areas in the world – the Natura 2000 network. The biggest threat to nature conservation in the EU today are the current agriculture practices and the bad state of the EU’s freshwater ecosystems, often linked to water management and agriculture. The Ministers called upon national, regional and local authorities to do more to manage the protected areas in the Natura 2000 network.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: 
“The Member states and the European Commission have acknowledged the threat of unsustainable agriculture to nature in the EU. However, they have not yet come up with a credible solution. The EU’s broken Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to be reformed to facilitate a transition to sustainable agriculture. We count on the Member States and the Commission to show that they care about our nature when shaping the next Common Agricultural Policy.”

The Ministers also called on the Commission to produce a new estimate of the required investments in biodiversity protection, and asked for predictable, adequate, regular and targeted EU financing, and welcomed the initiative to better integrate ecosystems into decision making. 

Importantly, the Ministers asked the Commission to come up with a proposal for a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure. Having such a network alongside the EU’s current Trans-European networks for energy and transport is essential, and will improve quality of life in the EU and offer a lifeline to regions currently affected by land abandonment.

Ariel Brunner: “While the Action Plan and the Trans-European network for Green infrastructure are important steps forward, the European Commission should also start and progress infringement cases. Many Member States continue to look the other way while Natura 2000 sites are being destroyed. Holding Member States accountable for the commitment they showed today will be crucial, and we count on the Commission to play their role as guardian of EU law.” ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia 
+32 491 90 46 53


Council conclusions on the EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy

The #NatureAlert campaign launched in response to the European Commission’s review of the Birds and Habitats Directives. This stemmed from President Jean-Claude Juncker’s instruction in 2014 to Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella to “carry out an in-depth evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and assess the potential for merging them into a more modern piece of legislation”, as part of the ‘better regulation’ initiative. An unprecedented coalition of over 200 NGOs across every EU member state gathered in response, calling for the Directives to be saved and better implemented – not “modernized”. In the biggest public consultation in the EU’s history, more than 520,000 citizens called for the Birds and Habits Directives to be saved and better implemented – more than 94% of the total responses. On 7 December 2016 the European Commission finally announced that the Birds and Habitats Directives – will be saved and not rewritten and weakened, ending two
years of uncertainty over the laws’ future. They also called for a plan to better implement and enforce these laws. For more information about the #NatureAlert campaign visit

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.



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.