Free the Nature Directives, says BirdLife

A Nature Directives banner created by BirdLife International to highlight the need for swift action on the EU Nature Directives.
A Nature Directives banner created by BirdLife International to highlight the need for swift action on the EU Nature Directives.
It’s 'back to school' for the European Commission after the summer break, says BirdLife International, and one of the first issues on the table is the conclusion of the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

The two-year long process has seen near unanimous support for EU nature legislation from experts, citizens, regions, Member States and the European Parliament. The Commission’s own comprehensive assessment concluded that: “The balance of the evidence shows that the Directives are fit for purpose and clearly demonstrate 'EU added value'. The Directives have generated many important benefits for nature conservation and sustainable development overall.

"They provide a balanced and workable framework for addressing the varying interests of stakeholders while respecting nature conservation objectives. Overall the costs of implementation are reasonable and outweighed by the benefits, although they do impact some stakeholders more than others.”

The process was supposed to be concluded in time for a high level conference organised under the Dutch presidency in June, but "unexplained dark manoeuvring" by what the international bird charity called "the enemies of nature" blocked the process, leading to an embarrassing last-minute calling off of the conference. Indeed it has taken access to documents by BirdLife's allies in the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) to get the findings out in the open.

In the face of harsh criticism, First Vice President Timmermans gave his word to the European Parliament that he will present a comprehensive communication on the future of biodiversity conservation in the autumn, as well as promising to take the conclusions of the Fitness Check process seriously. As the days shorten and migratory birds head for Africa, it is now time to deliver, said BirdLife, which also stated that: "If the Commission wants to retain any credibility on its commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis, it must conclude now that the Birds and Habitats Directives are fit for purpose, and table a credible better implementation package able to address the many failures highlighted by the Fitness check, from sloppy law enforcement to lack of conservation funding to the ongoing disaster that is the EU Common Agriculture Policy."

Birdlife said it is "confident that First Vice President Timmermans will keep his word, and [is] looking forward to working constructively with him and with Commissioner Vella to translate their upcoming biodiversity communication into action on the ground."