When evaluating the Nature Directives, the European Committee of the Regions found – as did the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee – that there was no need to revise their objectives and rules, but that the focus should be on implementation in future.

Thus the Committee wishes to identify areas where additional practical steps and more effective coordination of measures may be needed so as to improve biodiversity and coexistence with large predators.

Improving biodiversity is in the interest of all the various territorial levels in the EU; there is, therefore, a continued need for coordinated measures.

The Nature Directives have made a significant contribution to sensibly harmonising biodiversity objectives among the Member States, which clearly demonstrates the added value of the European Union.

As well as the LIFE Programme, more and more European resources are available – in particular, the research and development projects aiming to improve biodiversity that are to be put in place under Horizon 2020.

ISSUES FOR PARTICULAR CONSIDERATION IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS OPINION:

  • In addition to large predators, what other species should the opinion discuss?
  • Are local and regional authorities able to fully participate in drawing up national Natura 2000 regulations and in working out how to manage and regulate habitat and bird protection areas?
  • Does the protection of large predators also apply in populated areas of towns and villages?
  • Does the fact that increasing biodiversity offers additional opportunities to local communities – including positive externalities – also (and sufficiently) apply in the case of large predators?
  • Is it acceptable that areas that are worst affected by the negative effects of high biodiversity benefit from the lowest amount of Natura 2000 payments and measures – or even none at all?
  • Does preserving human life take priority over protecting certain problematic animals that belong to protected species under the Nature Directives?
  • As some species that benefit from a high level of protection under the Nature Directives – especially large predators – are detrimental to local people’s finances and health, can direct EU legislation be invoked given the general rules that apply to compensation, allowances and additional expenditure?
  • Against the backdrop of Brexit, might it be worth offering the EU’s neighbouring countries the option of adopting the Natura 2000 network approach and system?
  • What specific applied research do local and regional authorities need in relation to the Nature Directives?
  • Are there any parallels or overlaps between Natura 2000 and environmental protection at Member State level?

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Progress of this opinion

step 1

Appointment of the reporter

In Progress

step 2

First discussion

Still to come

step 3

Adoption in the commission

Still to come

step 4

Final adoption in the plenary

Still to come