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EXCLUSIVE/ EU rules to protect birdlife and habitats – under threat from a review driven by the European Commission’s ‘better regulation’ strategy – are fit for purpose, according to leaked research that fuelled demands to leave the laws alone.
The Birds and Habitats directives are undergoing a Commission-helmed “fitness check” to ensure they are “fit for purpose” – a judgement based on if they are effective, efficient, coherent, relevant and have “EU added value.”
The executive commissioned consultants to carry out independent research into the rules. It was scheduled to be finalised in March. The independent study, overdue for publication, found that the two Nature Directives satisfied all five criteria.
“The evaluation concludes that the directives are fit for purpose. The majority of the evidence across the five evaluation criteria shows that the legislation is appropriately designed and that, over time, implementation has improved, bringing important outcomes and impacts,” the report, obtained by EurActiv.com, said.
The only problem with the rules was some poor implementation at national level, it added.
The revelations will heap pressure on Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, in charge of better regulation, who will face MEPs in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee in Brussels at 5 PM today (15 June).
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy is the liberal ALDE group’s coordinator in the committee. “Timmermans can expect a rough ride,” he said.
“The conclusions are crystal clear,” the Dutch MEP said, “This document could have and should have been published in January. I will definitely ask him why it wasn’t.”
The Commission said it “would revert to the matter in autumn”, blaming the refugee crisis for the delay.
Orders from the top, public outcry
On taking power in November 2014, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ordered Timmermans and Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella to examine the potential for “merging” the two directives “into a more modern piece of legislation”.
The directives are being scrutinised by the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), part of the drive to cut red tape.
That decision sparked an unprecedented public outcry, with more than half a million Europeans responding in record numbers to a Commission consultation on the review.
They demanded that the environment legislation be left alone. Green groups said that reopening the directives would destroy “decades of hard work, dialogue between stakeholders and legal clarity built judgment by judgment, guideline by guideline”.
>>Read: Whole story on EurActiv
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