Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives

The Nature Directives (i.e. Birds Directive and Habitats Directive) are the key instruments of EU biodiversity policy; the Fitness Check support study for the European Commission DG-ENV examined their effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, EU-added value and their coherence with the wider acquis. The study, carried out by Milieu, IEEP and ICF, involved a large information gathering and stakeholder consultation process, through questionnaires, interviews, workshops and country visits, as well as careful reviews of the literature and reported evidence. IEEP led the analysis of their effectiveness (ie their progress towards their goals), the adequacy of their funding, and their coherence with the EU Common Agricultural Policy, as well as contributing to the other parts of the assessment. The study concluded that the directives are fit for purpose, but identified potential areas for improvement in their implementation. The study has been published by the Commission (see Commission website).

The Commission has agreed that the directives remain ‘relevant and fit for purpose’ and has confirmed that the legal texts will not be opened up for changes. A Commission Staff Working Document is expected by the end of the year. The Commission also announced that it will develop an action plan to improve implementation and involve authorities at national, regional (including the Committee of the Regions) and local level to find out where the challenges lie. IEEP is now working, together with the N2K Group, on a support contract for the Commission, which is likely to include assistance with improving the implementation of the nature directives.