European Habitats Forum meeting with EC
On 3 and 4 May Eurosite has attended a meeting of the European Habitats Forum (EHF). EHF is a platform of leading European nature conservation organisations to provide advice on the implementation and future development of EU biodiversity policy, including improving integration into sectoral policies.
The main topics, both during the internal meeting, as well as during an open and constructive meeting with the representatives of the European Commission DG Environment on the second day, were: State of play of the implementation of the Nature Action Plan; EU Pollinators Initiative, biodiversity financing – the LIFE Programme in particular – in the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF); the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
State of play of the implementation of the Nature Action Plan: a Guidance on The requirements for hydropower in relation to Natura 2000 and Guidance on Energy Transmission Infrastructure and EU nature legislation have been adopted and are available from the dedicated website of the European Commission. The other guidance documents in relation to Article 6 are in preparation and will be available soon.
The Eu Pollinators Initiative will be published in early June 2018.
Biodiversity financing and the LIFE Programme in the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF): EHF members have acknowledged the proposed increase of the LIFE budget and commended the EC on this. As the new LIFE regulation will also include a new topic – sustainable energy – It was underlined that the majority of this increase should go to nature and biodiversity as this is the only fund dedicated for merely this sector. The EC has confirmed that nature, climate and energy will be separate lines to ensure this. A proposal of the new LIFE Regulation should go out by the beginning of June.
Future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): The discussions about the new CAP are ongoing. The EHF has expressed concerns about the new proposed flexibility potentially being used by the Member States to a disadvantage of the environment, as well as the regret of ‘greening’ measures being removed from Pillar 1.
The new CAP is still in negotiations, but the EC has underlined that Pillar 2 will fund a lot of good measures for nature and biodiversity and that there will be voluntary eco-schemes in Pillar 1. Ringfencing for biodiversity remains in Pillar 2 and there is still some time to negotiate about Pillar 1. The EC has also reminded that cross-compliance will be obligatory and that the new Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan, a single programming instrument, will need to be aligned with the environmental objectives fully.