The European Court of Auditors (ECA) will publish its special report "More efforts needed to implement the Natura 2000 network to its full potential" on Tuesday 21 February 2017 at 11h30 in 23 EU languages.
The auditors visited 24 “Natura 2000” sites in France, Germany, Spain, Poland and Romania, covering most of the biogeographical regions in Europe.
In the report they will acknowledge the importance of the EU’s flagship biodiversity programme “Natura 2000” in protecting biodiversity, but they will point to the network’s unexploited potential and make a number of recommendations to both the Commission and the Member States as regards management, financing and monitoring.
Loss of biodiversity is one of the main environmental challenges facing the EU. The Natura 2000 network was established under the Birds and Habitats Directives as a key element of the EU’s 2020 strategy to halt biodiversity loss and improve the status of habitats and species.
The Directives provide a common framework for nature protection across the Member States. The Natura 2000 network has more than 27,000 sites all over Europe, protecting diverse habitats and species covering more than 18% of the EU’s land area and around 6% of the sea area. Socio-economic activities are not prohibited on the sites, but Member States must ensure there is no deterioration and take the conservation measures needed to maintain protected species and habitats at, or restore them to, favourable conservation status.
The ECA’s special reports set out the results of its performance and compliance audits of specific budgetary areas or management topics. The ECA selects and designs these audit tasks to be of maximum impact by considering the risks to performance or compliance, the level of income or spending involved, forthcoming developments and political and public interest.