BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 14 July '16

No revision needed for EU Nature laws, says ‘official’ report

An official study – which the European Commission has so far refused to publish – reveals  that EU Nature laws are fit for purpose and require no revision.

Britain should follow EU

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth say the analysis provides ‘uncontestable evidence’ that the EU Nature Directives work but require better implementation. The principles of these laws, or even the framework, should be copied by Britain when it leaves the European Union.

The findings of the study have been revealed through a freedom of information request for documents by WWF.

‘This report reinforces the importance of the Nature Directives and shows that they stand up to scrutiny. The UK, like the other EU countries, currently benefits from having these Directives as part of our law and that won’t change immediately.’

CATHERINE WELLER
Senior lawyer at ClientEarth

Last month, a leak of a draft report suggested that the directives were considered fit for purpose but needed improved implementation by member states. At the time, ClientEarth urged the European Commission to push ahead with improving their implementation.

That leak followed confirmation from the Commission that the final evaluation of the laws, which was due to be published in June, was to be delayed.

Lessons for the UK

The laws, which protect wildlife across Europe, have been the subject of a fitness check by the European Commission, according to the guidelines of better regulation. The fitness check assessed whether they were effective, efficient, coherent, relevant and have ‘EU added value’.

Since August 2014, consultants for the Commission have gathered masses of evidence to assess whether the Nature Directives needed to be revised.

‘As the UK considers its next moves, it should hold on to the lessons set out here: strong Nature protection laws do not significantly constrain overall sustainable development; having a balanced and workable legal framework that addresses the varying interests of stakeholders while supporting nature conservation is crucial; and there is value of working together on nature protection. There’s definitely something to be said for ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

CATHERINE WELLER
Senior lawyer at ClientEarth

What the Commission plans to do regarding the Directives, as a result of the REFIT process, is not expected to be confirmed until the autumn.

But the study’s findings should ensure a reinvigorated focus on better implementation of the Nature Directives, for which we provide a series of briefings here.

Click here to find out more about ClientEarth, the activist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.