Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press release 25 September 2017

The next EU budget has to serve nature and people – Proposals for the post 2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF)

Ahead of the European Commission conference on the future of EU finances on 25 September, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia and its 28 EU partners, present [1] how we believe the next MFF can serve nature and people. In line with the Commission’s own ambition of a “budget of results” we suggest replacing inefficient area based agriculture payments by targeted investments in a new high quality food and sustainable land use policy. Part of the EU’s CAP funds should help farmers change and tap into new opportunities, moving away from a dependence on subsidies. Another key tool of the redesigned CAP should be an EU fund for Nature and Biodiversity that would deliver reliable additional income, rewarding land users for their specific services to society. According to BirdLife estimates, with 15 billion EUR per year such a fund would be able to cover the main costs to the EU for halting biodiversity decline, in line with its global commitments.

According to EUROBAROMETER surveys, [2] at least 80% of Europeans consider the decline and possible extinction of animals, plants, natural habitats and ecosystems to be a serious problem. Europeans care about the environment and that is why BirdLife proposes that the next MFF should take well-resourced actions to protect our shared natural heritage and our essential ecosystems such as air, water and food. There are a lot of opportunities to invest in biodiversity and rural communities at the same time – rather than causing harm to both as the current food and farming system is doing.

During the “Fitness Check” of the EU Nature Directives [3], the biggest public consultation in the EU’s history, more than 520,000 citizens called for the Nature Directives to be saved and better implemented. These laws are responsible for the creation of the largest and most coherent network of protected natural areas in the world – the Natura 2000 network. However several studies show that the EU hasn’t made any significant progress in halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and lack of adequate funding is the main reason why; Natura 2000 has been significantly underfunded. The Commission’s own consultation on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy in spring 2017, the second biggest in EU history, confirmed this: 80% of participants (260,000) asked for a policy that is fair, nature friendly, healthy and globally responsible.

The BirdLife vision for the next MFF therefore makes a strong case for a significant increase in funding for biodiversity, based on 10 key principles, including an MFF that reflects the EU’s overarching commitment to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The next MFF should be based on the principle that polluters - not taxpayers - pay for the costs of pollution and that EU funding for biodiversity must be earmarked for specific actions without the possibility of that money getting hijacked for other purposes.

Based on these principles, BirdLife proposes the following main changes that can be achieved even in a reduced overall budget:

• A new European Food and Land-Use Policy. Agriculture is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in Europe. BirdLife believes that the current two pillar system of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must be replaced with investments that lead to results for farmers, nature and tax payers.
- An investment fund for the transition to sustainable farming
- An investment fund for the transition to fair prices, healthy food and the fight against food waste
-  A “Nature and Biodiversity Instrument” of 15 billion EUR per year, focusing on rewarding farmers, foresters and other land users for specific public goods beyond legal requirements
- A payment for farmers who create “Space for Nature”

A funding instrument to support priority Trans-Boundary Green Corridors (TEN-G) to maintain ecological connectivity and support sustainable regional development at landscape level. At least 1 billion EUR per year should be earmarked in the Connecting Europe Facility under the next MFF to fund projects which clearly and demonstrably contribute to the integrity of the Natura 2000 network and other protected areas such as nature reserves, national parks etc.

• A Sustainable Ocean Fund for a healthy marine environment. The current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund should be overhauled and replaced by a fund entirely focusing on sustainable management of the marine environment. It should total 1 billion EUR per year and tackle managing challenges and pressures faced by the marine environment, such as supporting the management needs of Marine Protected Areas, developing mitigation techniques to support minimising impact of fisheries on the marine species, and collecting and analysing data to map the impact of threats on the marine environment to support marine spatial planning.

• Protecting migratory species and global environmental governance. Nature knows no borders, and to protect wildlife in the EU, the EU Budget must provide support for species that migrate outside of the EU for part of their life cycle, and ensure that cross-boundary threats are well managed.

• A reformed Cohesion Policy should aim to place all EU regions on a sustainable development path, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and specifically supporting strategic investments in nature based solutions.

• The next research fund should prioritise long-term added value that will also support achieving commitments and policies that support biodiversity.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “Our health and well-being depends on the environment - it’s our life support system and it’s high time for the EU to invest in it. It’s also time to tackle the CAP. An EU that is credible can’t continue to throw away money on such a failed policy.” ENDS

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

[1] For an EU budget serving nature and people - Position Paper adopted by all BirdLife Partners in the European Union
[2] Special Eurobarometer 436 report, ATTITUDES OF EUROPEANS TOWARDS BIODIVERSITY 
[3] The #NatureAlert campaign  



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.