With 592 votes in favour, the plenary of the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported a resolution on the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy, Europe’s strategy to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. The resolution, which endorsed an Environment Committee report, sends a clear political signal to the Commission and Council to take stronger action to protect and restore Europe’s nature.
In its report the European Parliament opposes a revision of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, arguing that “it would result in weakened legislative protection and financing, and would be bad for nature, for people and for business”. The Directives are also considered sufficiently flexible to ensure that economic development and nature protection go hand in hand.
The crucial next step is to ensure that the proposal of the European Commission, expected later in spring 2016, will abandon ideas of revising the directives and instead include appropriate conservation and management measures, sufficient financing and coherence with other EU policies, such as agriculture and energy to achieve the recovery of species and habitats by 20020.
Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office, said: “We are glad to see that today the whole European Parliament has decided to listen to more than half a million people and governments supporting Europe’s nature laws. This is another strong message sent to the European Commission: t is wrong and costly to change something that works
“The ball is now in First Vice President Timmermans and Environment Commissioner Vella’s court. They will have to take a decision on the Fitness Check outcome. A first official document from the Commission (in the form of a staff working document) is expected late spring”, stated Birdlife’s Ariel Brunner.
In May 2015, WWF, BirdLife Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and Friends of the Earth Europe launched the “Nature Alert” campaign in response to the European Commission’s evaluation which assesses whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed. The campaign makes the case for improved implementation and enforcement of existing rules set out by the laws - known as the Birds and Habitats Directives. During the summer, by far the highest number of responses ever reached in the history of the EU.