Europe and Central Asia

Birdlife Europe & Central Asia Press release

Commission timidly commits to better implementation of nature legislation

Today the European Commission published its “Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy” – a roadmap for 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 Action Plan proposes measures to help halt biodiversity loss by 2020 but tiptoes around agriculture and funding.


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 Action Plan published today is the final step of the Fitness Check process of these important laws, which concluded them to be fit for purpose, but also identified the need for a substantial improvement in their implementation.

The Action Plan addresses important gaps in the implementation of the EU nature laws, for example the long overdue completion of the Natura 2000 network and the adoption of the necessary conservation measures for all sites. Other positive actions in the plan concern improved monitoring by using satellite imagery and the updating of guidance, for instance, on site-permitting procedures.

The action plan however, essentially fails to address two of the principal problems preventing progress on nature conservation, i.e., the deeply flawed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the systematic failure of the EU budget to provide funding for conservation. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that current agriculture practices are by far the biggest threat to biodiversity, but the plan is mostly mute on it. It also fails to commit to any improved funding for the management of the Natura 2000 network or for the development of strategic nature restoration projects to improve the connectivity of the Natura 2000 network – a so called Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure (TEN-G).

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “While the Commission has been right to avoid a weakening of EU’s nature laws and focus on better implementation, the action plan is a missed opportunity to truly grasp the nettle and make bold proposals ahead of the next EU budget debate.” He added: “As the debate on the future of Europe rages, it is time for the Commission and Member States to stop shying away from upsetting powerful lobbies and put EU funding on the table to deliver a sustainable future to EU citizens.”

The ongoing Commission consultation on the future of CAP is a first opportunity to debate a change of course in the area seeing the worst biodiversity crisis. The debate on the CAP is tightly linked to the one on the next EU budget, a proposal on which is expected by end of the year. ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 491 90 46 53

Notes: 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 & Central Asia, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and WWF EU started in March the Living Land campaign - calling for reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). So far 400 organizations have joined the call asking for the EU’s new agricultural policy to be:
 Fair – for farmers and rural communities.
 Environmentally Sustainable – for clean air and water, healthy soil, and thriving plant and animal life.
 Healthy – for good food and the well-being of all people.
 Globally Responsible – for the planet’s climate and sustainable development around the world.

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.