European Nature Directives

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the European Nature Directives.

My response is below.

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Dear constituent,

Thank you for your letter on the importance of the European Nature Directives to biodiversity in the UK.

As you know, the Habitats Directive, along with the EU’s Birds Directive, forms the cornerstone of the EU’s nature conservation policy and have been central to the protection and preservation of biodiversity in the UK.

As part of its Regulatory Fitness and Reform Programme (REFIT) the European Commission has identified both the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive as legislation that requires a ‘fitness check’.  As part of the fitness check, the Commission is evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of the two Directives and may use the findings to inform any future revision to the EU’s nature legislation.

The Commission states that the aim of the REFIT Programme is to simplify EU law and to reduce the regulatory burden.  While Labour MEPs generally support the idea of simplifying EU law where this will make legislation clearer and easier to understand and implement, we are wary of calls to ‘slash red tape’, which we believe are often nothing more than a guise for cutting vital environmental and social protections.

As part of the fitness check, the Commission launched a public consultation, which asked respondents to rate the benefits of the Directives. The response to the consultation was incredible, with over 100,000 respondents from the UK alone speaking up in support of the Directives.

Labour MEPs are committed to protecting the EU Nature Directives and will work to ensure that the fitness check is not used as an excuse to water down or weaken the legislation. For this reason Labour MEPs will be voting in favour of the Environment Committee’s report on the Mid-term Review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy.

Yours sincerely,

Afzal Khan MEP


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