NGOs fear ‘better regulation’ could hurt environment

More than 100 environmental NGOs said on Tuesday (12 May) that they feared the European Commission may use its better regulation programme to cut nature protection laws.

By EurActiv.com

The European Commission opened a consultation on Tuesday into EU nature legislation as part of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).

REFIT is part of the better regulation strategy led by Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. It aims to simplify EU law and reduce regulatory costs, but has been criticised for endangering social and environmental standards.

Campaigners are worried that the consultation is a first step towards sacrificing the Birds and Habitats Directives in a bid to become more “business friendly”.

Designed to “maintain the population of all species of wild birds in the EU at a level which corresponds to ecological, scientific and cultural requirements”, the Birds Directive bans activities like collecting eggs and destroying nests. Hunting is also limited to specific seasons, methods and species.

The Habitats Directive aims to “maintain or restore natural habitats and species of EU interest” by providing special conservation status for over 1,000 species of plants and animals in some 230 different habitat types.

The European Union boasts some of the strongest nature protection laws in the world, supported by the extensive Natura 2000 network of conservation sites. It covers almost a fifth of the EU’s land area and 4% of its seas.

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