Greens/EFA urge European Convention to include nature conservation in its works

Conference Natura 2000

Bruxelles/Brussel, 13 December 2002,

The conference Natura 2000 ended yesterday with an appeal to the European Convention to include nature and biodiversity conservation as a fundamental policy of the EU in a future European constitution. The one-day conference, which attracted more than 650 participants from the European Union and the enlargement countries, was organised by the Green/European Free Alliance group. [:]

Monica Frassoni MEP, Co-President of the Green/EFA group, concluded after the conference:

“The lively interest in our debate showed that nature conservation is at the heart of European citizens. In fact, the Community’s environmental legislation is one of the most important EU policies, and in the Natura 2000 network we have the only instrument to ensure the implementation of such policies. Member States have failed to implement fully the more than eight year-old Habitats Directive and the more than 20 year-old Birds Directive, which means that nature conservation is still not yet fully operational in the European Union. To improve this situation, we call for the setting up of an independent European Helpdesk to help local groups to protect Natura 2000 areas.”

Heidi Hautala MEP (Greens/Finland) said:

“We must keep the pressure on member states to fulfil their obligations under the Habitats and Birds directives. We call on the European Commission to speed-up the processing of citizens complaints regarding the infringement of those directives, so there can be a speedy reaction to possible threats for the environment and thus preventing the unnecessary destruction of Natura 2000 sites. There are good economic reasons for nature conservation. Recent studies show that conserving remaining natural spaces is economically more viable and advantageous in terms of delivery of goods and services to society than transforming or converting them.”

In a manifesto, which was adopted at the end of the conference the participants are calling further for

special attention be given to accession countries with their rich biodiversity heritage, learning from the past experience of current Member States and allocating substantial financial means for nature
the creation of adequate ecological corridors and buffer zones connecting between them isolated sites at a local level as well as broader protection areas, in order to fight against sites fragmentation and encourage the success of the Natura 2000 network,
an increase of the financial envelopes of the existing Community instruments which can contribute to carry out the Natura 2000 programme and a re-targeting of them (Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund, rural development measures, European Investment Bank programs, pre-accession instruments, LIFE, etc.),
the constitution of an independent European Helpdesk on Natura 2000 which – without replacing competent public authorities – would aim to watch the state of progress of the Natura 2000 network, develop exchange of experiences and connect organisations, decision-makers and individuals in an informal and proactive way, and to ensure legal aid for the actors concerned.

For further information please contact:

Helmut Weixler
Head of Press Office
The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
Tel: (Bxl) +32 2 2844683
phone: 0032 475 671 340
fax: 0032 2 2844944
mobile phone: 0032-475-67 13 40