Action Plan for nature, people and the economy (communication)

EESC opinion: Action Plan for nature, people and the economy (communication)
The links to the different language versions will work as soon as the opinion is translated.

Key points:

  • The EESC generally welcomes the findings of the Fitness Check of the Nature Directives, which indicate that the directives are fulfilling their purpose as pillars of a wider biodiversity policy, but that their implementation must be substantially improved.
  • Even if each of the 15 proposed measures of the new action plan is well-founded, the plan is confusing. There is little clarity about how it relates to the existing biodiversity strategy, especially since a lot of the content overlaps and there are only very few new features. The EESC feels it would have made more sense to evaluate, and where necessary enhance, the existing biodiversity strategy.
  • The critical issue for an effective biodiversity policy must be that measures to promote biodiversity today largely represent a cost factor rather than a source of revenue for land owners and users. Measures must make economic sense for those who are to put them into effect. None of the programmes introduced by the EU and the Member States to date have been able to resolve this fundamental dilemma; nor unfortunately does the action plan, in which "win-win" positions are often invoked, offer any useful approaches.
  • Lack of financing is not just a major obstacle to achieving the agreed biodiversity targets, but is symptomatic of the failures of EU policy. Laws are adopted that entail costs, but no agreement is reached on who must pay or how these costs are to be covered.
  • The EESC again urges the European Commission to produce an up-to-date estimate of costs for the Natura 2000 network. The constantly EUR 6.1 billion as the amount of resources needed for Natura 2000 is in our view inaccurate; we think that the actual need double to three times that figure.
  • The EESC therefore believes it is imperative to set out a long-term strategy for meeting the financing needs of biodiversity policy. The appropriate context for this would be the discussion about the post-2021 financial perspective, but neither the action plan nor the approaches set out in the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU finances indicate that the situation could be substantially improved.