Home » Work areas » Working Groups » Natura 2000 » Natura 2000 fitness check

Natura 2000 fitness check

What is the the fitness check of the EU nature directives? 

“Fitness checks” are comprehensive policy evaluations assessing whether the regulatory framework for a policy sector is fit for purpose.

The European Commission evaluated the nature directives i.e. is undertook a fitness check on Natura 2000. In December 2016 the Colleague of Commissioners decided that the directives do not need to be changed but better implemented!

This review provided answers to the questions about each of the following criteria:

  • Effectiveness (were the objectives met?)
  • Efficiency (were the costs reasonable?)
  • Coherence (does the policy complement other actions or are there some contradictions?)
  • Relevance (is the EU action still necessary?)
  • EU added value (can or could similar changes have been achieved at national/regional level, or did the EU action provide clear added value?)

The following aspects of the directives, among others, was analysed:

  • Implementation and integration: successes and problems;
  • The costs of implementation but also the costs of non-implementation of the legislation;
  • Opportunities for improving implementation and reducing administrative burden without changing the purposes of the directives;
  • The situation of implementation in different EU countries;
  • The views of key stakeholder groups.

Unfortunately, due to the powerful industry lobbies, nature conservation is being increasingly viewed as a factor that prevents economic growth. To prove that wrong, we have showed evidences of how nature conservation contributes to the socio-economic growth. We emphasized the fact that the environmental protection is an integral part of a sustainable development. By doing that, we have prevented the weakening of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

The released Emerging Findings and the leaked Evaluation study of Natura 2000 fitness check prove that the Directives are indeed fit for purpose! Now we wait for the new Action Plan for better implementation. 


What CEEweb for Biodiversity did about this?

We coordinated our member organisations’s activities in order to provide an input into the fitness check process. We also collected and disseminated evidences in a support of the Nature Directives. We lobbied politicians on both national and EU levels. We informed them about the benefits of Natura 2000. And why? Because we love Natura 2000! And we managed to prove we have reasons for it!

What can you still do?

Become Friend of Natura 2000 – show that you care!

Join our Natura 2000 Working Group – be up to date with all events.

Visit the Green Infrastructure Knowledge Hub – learn about how nature conservation provides multiple socio-economic benefits.


Campaign’s history:

July 2015: 520 324 people sign #NatureAlert petition saying they want Natura 2000 directives untouched

November 2015: Emerging findings of Natura 2000 Fitness Check show that the Directives are fit for purpose and don’t need a change.

December 2015: 11 National Governments send a letter supporting Natura 2000

January 2016: 592 Members of the European Parliament vote in favor of the Biodiversity Report in support of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the laws that protect nature in Europe. Only 52 vote against them.

May 2016: 11,700 people send a clear message to the European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella and Vice-President Frans Timmermans, calling on the Commission to better implement the EU’s nature laws and publish the outcome of the “fitness check” on these laws. The call come in the form 24 separate Member State Thunderclap actions on Facebook and Twitter.

May 2016: non-governmental organisations remind the EU Commission about the citizens’, scientific and governmental support for Natura 2000 by sending them these letters: one, two

May 2016: Evaluation Study to support the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives leaks to the public – it supports the Directives proving that they are fit for purpose, safeguarding Europe’s nature.

December 2016: after sending letters to all Colleague of Commissioners and Members of EU Parliament, European Commission has finally concluded that the Birds and Habitat Directives, the basis of the biggest nature conservation network in the world – Natura 2000, are fit for purpose.  Commissioner Vella have stood strong to uphold the Directives, see his statement. THANK YOU all, who supported the campaign!


Fitness Check Website

What is EU Legislation Refit?

Fitness Check Mandate

Emerging Outcomes of the Fitness Check

Evaluation Study to support the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives

Fitness Check timeline (click)