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7 December 2016

European nature laws saved today

European Commission has finally concluded today that the Birds and Habitat Directives, the basis of the biggest nature conservation network in the world – Natura 2000, are fit for purpose.  This means that the European nature is safe after two years of uncertainty, and that we should all focus now on better implementation of the laws protecting it, on national level. But if we look at this news from a broader perspective, from the one that includes the current political trends, such as EU skepticism (with Brexit and all the aftershocks), we can say that this is a great day not only for European nature, but for Europe as a whole. Namely, more than 500 thousand European citizens unified in supporting Natura 2000 by participating in the biggest online consultation by the European Commission in its history.

“We are glad that the European Commission heard the voice of European citizens about how important nature and Natura 2000 is for us and for our future. The message is clear – a network of such a European value should not be questioned, it should be strengthened and implemented – jointly! CEEweb for Biodiversity had and will have its focus on helping that the nature directives implementation delivers for all of us.” – said CEEweb’s General Secretary Ágnes Zólyomi.

The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella emphasized in his statement today that “protecting and investing more in nature is essential as so many depend on it also economically – it is literally a grassroots approach” – you can read his full statement here.

CEEweb for Biodiversity lead a Twitter campaign asking for the results of the fitness check to be published. In the wake of today’s College of Commissioners, we also sent personal e-mails to all the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and to the Commissioners, asking them to urge President Juncker to release the directives. Our arguments were straightforward: the socio-economic benefits of Natura 2000 are undeniable.

“Today is a celebration day for all supporters of Natura 2000! After months of campaigning, showing support from scientists, representatives of businesses, citizens; after constantly emphasizing its benefits to economy, people’s livelihoods, to health and environment… we finally have a confirmation from the Commissioners as well: YES, Natura 2000 works, we want to keep it, for the benefit of all of us” – said our Natura 2000 Policy Officer Monika Kotulak.

We would like to thank everyone that recognized the benefits that Natura 2000 holds for the Central and Eastern European countries and supported us during the campaign: to our Friends of Natura 2000, to our member organizations Brod Ecological Society BED from Croatia,  Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, Regional Association for Natura Conservation and Sustainable Development BROZ from Slovakia, Green Action from Hungary, Lithuanian Fund for Nature, Milvus Group from Romania, Estonian Fund for Nature and Latvian Fund for Nature, as well as to Juniperia from Czech Republic.

We are now waiting for the details of an action plan that is to be presented by Juncker’s Commission – we expect the plan that will ensure that the laws protecting our nature are implemented better.

In case of any questions please contact Monika Kotulak, Natura 2000 Policy Officer via kotulak@nullceeweb.org