In their conclusions of the 16 December Council, the EU’s Environment Ministers adopted the 2015 Mid-Term Review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy highlighting the need for full implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives.
At the press conference of the Luxembourgian Presidency of the EU Council, Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg, noted that: “The conclusions emphasise that the protection of nature involves a wide range of resulting benefits, such as 'the protection of our health and the climate and the supply of drinking water'. The conclusions recognise the European directives on nature, i.e. the Habitats and Birds directives, as a 'cornerstone for the protection of our environment in Europe'. The Ministers took the view that the directives are working and are bringing results and that they must be fully implemented and financed by the Member States. They stressed the need to 'do more in order to ensure better coordination with agricultural policies', by strengthening the cross-sectoral aspect of the policies. From their perspective, the elimination of harmful subsidies is also key to greater biodiversity.” 'What remains clear is that we should not go back on the Nature directives. Doing so would jeopardise the legal certainty we have now, which would not be a good thing', the Minister declared.
Responding to the outcome of the Environment Council, WWF called on EU Member States to hold to their political commitments and to invest in concrete measures to tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, especially intensive agriculture, over abstraction of water and hydropower development.
Following suite, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee overwhelmingly approved the report on the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy, drafted by Belgian MEP Mark Demesmaeker (ECR). The MEPs acknowledge that “in addition to its overwhelming intrinsic value, biodiversity also contributes an enormous social and economic value” and also note that “at least eight in every 10 EU citizens regard the impact of biodiversity loss as serious and whereas 552,470 citizens participated in the public consultation on the fitness check of the Nature Directives”. As stated in the report, the ENVI Committee “Is convinced that the problem lies not with the legislation itself but primarily with its incomplete and inadequate implementation; opposes a possible revision of the Nature Directives because this would jeopardise the implementation of the biodiversity strategy, bring about a protracted period of legal uncertainty and possibly weaken the legislation”.
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