Posted on 02 June 2016
This brings new urgency to the debate around revising them
WWF calls on Juncker Commission to end nearly 1,000 days of uncertainty
Today, the British Prime Minister David Cameron came out strongly in favour of protecting the EU Nature Directives, which are the backbone of nature conservation across the EU. By doing so, he inserted a much needed sense of urgency into the debate around a potential revision of the Directives, nearly 1,000 days after the initial launch of the REFIT process by the European Commission. His remarks also emphasised concerns about environmental standards in the UK in case of Brexit, which numerous studies had raised over the past few weeks.
“The uncertainty over the Nature Directives has lasted for exactly 974 days now since its announcement on 2 October 2013,” said Geneviève Pons, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Given the widespread support, it is totally unclear to us why the Commission is not taking a decision. This situation is unacceptable, as creates uncertainty for Member States, citizens and businesses. The looming danger of Brexit makes a decision all the more urgent.”
David Cameron’s call echoes the stance of the majority of EU governments, including Germany, Poland, Spain, France, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Luxembourg, Romania, Greece, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary who have stressed the importance of maintaining the Nature Directives and focusing on better implementation; the Dutch Presidency has also expressed the need for a strong focus on better implementation of the legislation.
In addition, the European Parliament came out strongly in favour of not revising the Directives, with 86 % of its members stressing that full implementation and enforcement of the Nature Directives is a vital prerequisite for ensuring the success of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
Last year, the EU Fitness Check public consultation mobilised more than half a million people to underline the importance that the EU Nature Directives are fit for purpose and should not be revised - a record number for an EU public consultation. More than 100,000 signatures alone came from the UK, demonstrating the strong link the British population has with its natural heritage.
WWF calls on the Juncker Commission to make a clear statement in favour of the Nature Directives urgently. The British referendum will take place just days before the “Conference of EU Nature proof” organized by the Dutch presidency starting on 28 June, the day on which exactly 1,000 days will have been elapsed. This is an opportunity for reaching a final agreement between Member States and the European Commission not to revise the Nature Directives and to focus on stronger implementation.
WWF is currently mobilising citizens around Europe to “Turn Up the Volume of Nature” by creating nature songs and sending them with a message environment ministers and the Juncker Commission. Already more than 10,000 people have taken action on www.wwf.eu/natureup
Notes to the Editor
Today, 2 June, WWF UK is calling on citizens to consider the importance of the environment when they cast their votes on 23 June. Under the banner of #ThinkEnvironment,
WWF UK highlights that the environment is integral to the Referendum debate and that the evidence shows that on balance, Britain’s membership of the EU has delivered benefits for the environment - such as reduced air and water pollution, reduced carbon emissions, increased recycling, clean beaches and protecting areas for rare species and habitats - that would be hard to replicate in the event of the UK leaving.
The urgency for a decision on the EU Nature Directives was also echoed by Stanley Johnson, former MEP and co-chairman of ‘Environmentalists for Europe’ in a recent opinion piece in Euractiv entitled ‘EU nature directives: The trust of millions in Juncker’s hands
See also article in today's Daily Telegraph 'Leaving the EU would put our environment at risk
' by David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK; and Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, RSPB.
WWF European Policy Office: tel +32 499 539 736, firstname.lastname@example.org