In April, the European Commission adopted a new action plan for halting the loss of biodiversity by 2020. In 2016, many environmental organisations across Europe worked hard to direct EC toward better implementation of the Nature Directives instead of changing them. In November 2016, EELC together with the Estonian Council of Environmental NGOs sent a letter on this to Andrus Ansip, the Vice-President of the European Commission. In January 2017, as a member of the network Justice and Environment (J&E) we submitted the proposals to EC on the future Nature Action Plan. These proposals were based on the legal analysis composed by J&E, the results of which suggest that in member states there are significant gaps in the so-called appropriate assessment of new development projects.
The newly released EC Action Plan contains a number of activities that now require active and committed action by member states to restrict or refuse projects that could harm the Natura 2000 network sites. These actions include, for example, raising awareness and disseminating the best practices, but also improving access to know-how of member states authorities and their environmental monitoring data.
We will be following the activities in Estonia and this autumn organize trainings for local governments in order to improve the skills and knowledge related to appropriate assessments.