Major win for wildlife as EU nature laws saved

The European Commission has announced that it will not open EU nature laws for revision, which would have undoubtedly weakened them. This is a major win for environmental protection.

Since 2014, consultants for the Commission have gathered evidence to assess whether the Nature Directives need to be revised. The directives risked being merged and weakened as part of the drive for ‘Better Regulation’, which seeks to ensure that laws are fit for purpose and don’t end up as unnecessary red tape.

The fitness check of the Birds and Habitats Directives began in May 2015. 500,000 people from across Europe answered the public consultation telling the Commission not to open up the laws for review.

In a highly anticipated announcement, the Commission this week said the laws are strong and fit for purpose, and committed to ensuring better implementation and enforcement.

ClientEarth lawyer Alice Puritz said: “This is a huge win for wildlife. These laws work and should be celebrated. Now, we need to see strong implementation and enforcement, to make sure Europe’s nature gets the protection it needs to thrive.”

The Birds and Habitats Directives provide protection for animals and habitats across Europe, particularly through the Natura 2000 network – the largest network of protected areas in the world.

Wildlife in Europe is diminishing, so it is even more important that we have these laws to help us reach the 2020 biodiversity targets.

The Commission has been criticised by many environmental organisations for failing to secure the future of the Nature Directives earlier. The delay has hampered progress towards the biodiversity targets.

We welcome today’s announcement and urge the Commission to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the nature laws to save and protect Europe’s wildlife.

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Monique Rebanks