The Environmental Implementation Review

The Environmental Implementation Review, a new tool produced by EU Commission - DG Environment is available at

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Yesterday, the European Commission announced a new way to help Member States applying EU rules, on the level of waste management, nature and biodiversity, air quality, water quality and management: The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR).

Environmental Implementation Review: improving the implementation of EU environmental policy

The full implementation of EU environment legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. According to Eurobarometer, 3 out of 4 citizens consider European laws necessary to protect the environment in their country, and 4 out of 5 agree that European institutions should be able to check whether the laws are being correctly applied.

The Environmental Implementation Review aims to:

  • improve the common knowledge about existing implementation gaps on EU environmental policy and law in each Member State;
  • provide new solutions complementary to legal enforcement;
  • address the underlying root and often cross-sectoral causes of these gaps;
  • and stimulate exchanges of good practices.

Based on the diagnostic, the Commission would be ready to accompany the Member States’ own efforts with technical and financial support and if necessary, with expertise underpinning structural reforms.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “Patchy and uneven implementation of environmental rules helps no one. Improving how environmental laws are applied benefits citizens, public administrations and the economy.  This is where the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) comes in. The European Commission is committed to helping Member States make sure that the quality of their citizens’ air, water and waste management is of the highest standard. This Review provides the information, the tools and the timetable to do this”.

The Environmental Implementation Review Package

What does the EIR say about Protecting Nature and Biodiversity:

policy findings, successful practices, and concrete actions suggested to Member States

Specifically about protecting nature and biodiversity, the Review shows that, despite many local success stories, the implementation of EU nature legislation needs to be stepped up, as confirmed by the EU Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Otherwise, biodiversity loss will continue in the EU, compromising the capacity of ecosystems to provide for human needs in the future.

The most frequently reported pressures and threats to biodiversity are:

  • For land ecosystems: non-sustainable agricultural practices, the modification of natural conditions, and pollution.
  • For marine biodiversity: unsustainable fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources, modification of natural conditions, climate change and ocean acidification, pollution by chemicals, plastics and noise.

Policy findings

– The assessment of the 28 EIR country reports reflects the findings of the State of Nature 2015 report prepared by the European Environmental Agency, i.e. the overall status of protected species and habitats has not significantly improved over the last six years.

– Across the EU, more than three-quarters of the habitats assessments indicate an unfavourable conservation status and a significant proportion is continuing to deteriorate. As regards non-bird species, 60% of EU level assessments indicate an unfavourable status. The status of 15 % of all wild bird species is near threatened, declining or depleted and another 17% are threatened.

– While there has been progress in many areas and there are local success stories, there are significant gaps in implementation, financing and policy integration. At the current rate of efforts, biodiversity loss would continue in the EU with potentially serious consequences for the capacity of natural ecosystems to provide for human needs in the future.

Only seven Member States have (almost) completed the designation of “Sites of Community Interest” under the Habitats Directive. 17 Member States have designated most sites on land but there are insufficiencies in the marine component of their network. The remaining four Member States have insufficiencies both on land and sea.

– Systemic issues causing poor implementation of the Nature Directives are the absence of management plans for Natura 2000 sites or their management. The country reports provide evidence for three Member States that are struggling with applying appropriate assessment procedures to determine the effect of new plans and projects on Natura 2000 sites.

A lack of knowledge on species, habitats and sites is one of the major obstacles to effective implementation in most of the Member States, including with regards to marine ecosystems.

– Further issues are a lack of adequate funding, a lack of human resources and poor involvement and engagement of local communities and stakeholders such as landowners and land users.

Successful practices

France has developed an effective participatory approach for the management of its Natura 2000 network, which has also created several hundred jobs. The French Green and Blue Trails (TGB) provide a planning tool used by the regional and local levels to establish coherent ecological networks.

Belgium: Thanks to an extensive range of Natura 2000 sites restoration measures carried out since 2003 in the frame of six coordinated LIFE projects covering several thousands of hectares of peat bogs and wetlands in the Belgian Ardennes16, the Belgian authorities were able to report, in 2013, significant positive trends in the conservation status of a dozen different habitat types and associated species protected by the EU Habitats Directive .

Estonia has provided one of the most complete integrated planning frameworks for the financing of Natura 2000 sites from different EU funds. Estonia presented a comprehensive priorities action framework, including conservation priorities, measures needed to achieve improvement of conservation status of the protected habitats and species, and related financing needs, together with a thorough analysis of financing opportunities.

The Netherlands is a leader in the area of natural capital accounting. It has finalised a large natural capital programme19 providing evidence on how the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services can be integrated into decision-making in different domains, such as agriculture, flood defence and international trade. The Netherlands also tested local level ecosystem accounts. NGOs, companies and governmental organisations have agreed to collaborate on the valuation of natural and social capital.

Suggested Actions

·         Complete the site designation process, including in the marine part, and put in place clearly defined conservation objectives and the necessary conservation measures for the sites and provide adequate resources for their implementation in order to maintain/restore species and habitats of community interest to a favourable conservation status across their natural range. Complete and update prioritised action framework (PAFs). Improve knowledge and data availability to be in a better position to implement appropriate conservation measures. AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, UK
·         Ensure that Natura 2000 management plans are being effectively implemented with administrative capacity and finance. Build capacity of competent authorities (central, regional, site management bodies) to implementing Management Plans, increasing awareness about Natura 2000 and incentives for investments promoting its benefits, and tackling illegal activities affecting wildlife through enhanced enforcement, both within and outside Natura 2000 areas. BG, EE, EL, IT, PL, RO, SI, SK
·         Develop and promote smart and streamlined implementation approaches, in particular as regards site and species permitting procedures, ensuring the necessary knowledge and data availability and strengthen communication with stakeholders. AT, BG, CY, CZ, DE, EE, ES, HU, IT, LT, MT, PL, PT
·         Continue supporting the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services, evaluation and development of natural capital accounting systems. AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK
·         Build the capacity of the administration in order to improve Appropriate Assessment procedures and prevent deterioration of Natura 2000 sites from damaging developments. CY, EL, IT
·         Ensure the appropriate enforcement of hunting bans for protected bird species. CY, FR, MT
·         Strengthen the integration of biodiversity concerns into other policies (in particular in agriculture, but also in forestry, fisheries, urban and infrastructure planning and tourism) and the promotion of communication between actors. DE, DK, FR, PT, SI
·         Optimise the contribution of the Natura 2000 and the national nature networks to achieving good conservation status, and to reduce habitat fragmentation, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, desiccation and acidification. NL
·         Avoid further habitat fragmentation and take measures to restore connectivity. LU
·         Ensure that the Rural Development Programmes and the implementation of greening favour biodiversity measures and contribute to achieving a favourable conservation status of habitats and species, especially for the maintenance of High Nature Value farming LU, NL, RO
·         Capitalise valuable natural capital to create jobs and income. In this context, promoting further sustainable tourism. EL, ES
·         Continue to support the ongoing work on a sustainable partnership for  biodiversity protection, sustainable development and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Outermost Regions and the Overseas Countries and Territories FR, UK
·         Improve the incentives for foresters and farmers to better protect forest and grassland habitat. Ensure the sustainable forest management and promote efficient use of biomass. LV, SK

For more information about the EIR please contact Stefania Petrosillo, EUROPARC Policy officer at s.petrosillo @

Siggen Seminar 2017: Sustainable Agriculture

Biodiversity in agriculture, Waterboard Rivierenland at the Maas-Schwalm-Nette Nature Park, Transboundary park - Germany and the Netherlands

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EUROPARC organises annually a Seminar in Gut Siggen, north Germany, thanks to the generosity of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S.. The Siggen Seminars are always an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge, share experience and establish professional contacts – fundamental activities for those working in the international context of conservation.

Siggen Seminar 2017

Protected Areas for Sustainable Agriculture: Sharing experiences from across Europe that support agriculture in Protected Areas

This year, the Siggen Seminar will run from 10th-13th*March and will focus on Protected Areas promoting Sustainable Agriculture initiatives that:

  • contribute to protect habitats and species;
  • improve landscape management;
  • support the work landowners and farmers, and resulting in high-quality productions. 

In particular, we will be looking at some partnership and management practices from France, Italy and Ireland, with inputs from other organisations, with a view to developing new guidance and models to improve the cooperation between protected areas and the farming community.

Our seminars are always fun, lively, interactive and informative. We also aim to make them relevant to the work of Protected Areas and certainly are a valuable chance to learn from others across Europe. We ask participants to come prepared with case studies or example that we can work through.

So, if you have agriculture production in or around your Protected Area and, want to understand and develop more sustainable agriculture practices then this is the seminar for you!

We will also look to the creation of a Sustainable Agriculture commission for EUROPARC to take forward this area of work, developing tools and good practice guidance for the future.

  • *IF you are interested in participating in the meeting of the new EUROPARC commission then please foresee a departure on Monday 13th March.  All others can depart on Sunday afternoon 12th March. You must indicate this preference at the time of registration in order that we can correctly reserve your accommodation.

The seminar will bring together EUROPARC members, especially from national agencies, regional governments and parks. Participants will meet fellow Protected Area managers from across Europe in a relaxing and fun atmosphere and return back renewed, refreshed and invigorated in their work!

Register for Siggen Seminar 2017

Registration closes on March 1st (or when places are filled)

Places are limited so please book early! 

Programme: download the draft programme here

Location:  The Siggen Estate (Gut Siggen), Siggen, Germany (more details on how to reach Siggen in the document above, page 4) download the travel information

Costs:  The seminar is FREE for members of the EUROPARC Federation. Participants will therefore ONLY cover their own travel to and from the event.

Registration form: download the registration form and send it back to office @

Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship: Call for applications!

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Opportunity for young professionals working for Protected Areas

Each year the EUROPARC Federation, with support from the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S., awards three Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships to promising young conservationists, who are committed to working for the benefit of Protected Areas. The aim of the scholarships is to enhance international cooperation and to advance the quality, innovation and European dimension of Protected Area management.

Each scholarship is worth €3.000 and enables successful applicants to undertake a study visit on a particular theme to one or more Protected Areas in a European country. After the trip, the scholars are expected to present the Federation with their findings and a report. These reports are made available to EUROPARC members, as they are full of interesting facts on observation and solutions to common Protected Area management issues.

Who can apply?

Applicants should:

– be under 35 years

– have European nationality from the list of countries

– be employed by a European Protected Area or a nature conservation institution

or be student or graduate of higher educational institutions, studying an environmentally relevant topic related to Protected Area management


This year, the categories open for applications are:

1. Biodiversity and Climate Change– Importance of values of N2000 sites and protected areas on reducing impacts of climate change and implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy

2. Sustainable Development in Protected Areas – contribution to a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy

3. Opportunities for Health and Well-being in Protected Areas Contribution of protected areas to safeguard the European citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing

4. Parks for PeopleApproaches and strategies to address local communities and how to involve particular groups into activities or management of protected areas

Candidates should indicate which theme they are choosing in the application form and explain their motivations.

How to apply?

Applications are open from the 6th February to the 28th April.  The complete schedule is as follows:

When? What?
6th February 2017 Call for applications open
April 28th 2017 Deadline for applications
May 25th 2017 Notification to selected applicants
August 9th 2017 Deadline for completion of study visits proposals
6th to 10th September 2017 Awarding ceremony at EUROPARC Conference 2017, Portugal
January – December 2018 Study visits

Steps for the application:

Need an example of a successful application?

Example motivation and application I

Example motivation and application II

Example travel plan

Need inspiration?

Find out about the past editions of the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship and read the previous award winners’ reports!

Water Governance Across Europe: the EU Water Framework Directive

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Water Governance Across Europe: In Light of the Review of the EU Water Framework Directive

01.02.2017, European Parliament Brussels

The Water Framework Directive (WDF) is EU’s forefront legislative instrument to protect European water resources. However, the achievement of the “good status” for EU waters as laid down in the WFD lags behind. To understand implementation gaps, the issue of governance is a key aspect to look at.

In order to discuss the main issues related to water governance at European level, to propose solutions and to address challenges such as climate change and water security the MEP Michel Dantin, organised the event “Water Governance Across Europe: In light of the Review of the EU Water Framework Directive”. The event took place in the European Parliament, last Wednesday, and counted with over 50 participants. Stefania Petrosillo, EUROPARC Policy Officer, represented the Federation in the meeting and shares with us the main topics  discussed.

Water Management at a national and regional level

According to the European Commission, the Water Directive is working quite well at national level, and Member States and authorities are willing to implement it, even if many aspects have to be improved. However, some member States who have include directives in their legislation, also reduce funds and human resources, making difficult the appropriate implementation of the legislation in the ground (e.g. France).

Water governance is strictly interconnected with, and affected by, administrative and territorial reforms ongoing in many member States (e.g. in France and Italy), such as changing the administrative structures (regions, municipalities, etc.); creating new and different authorities and altering the roles and responsibilities on water issues. Thus leading to legal uncertainty, loss of administrative know-how and poorer implementation of the Water Directive Framework.

Challenges and… solutions?

Water is vital for survival and impacts many different sectors – from privates and families, to farmers, or big industries. How to manage this demand and possible competition?  And the scenario gets worse, as drinking water is a decreasing resource, and it is specially complex to manage in urban areas. How to guarantee the general access to water, despite the costs of service and infrastructures, specially relevant in Europe’s current financial situation?

However, before all other questions, comes the critical one: how to manage/stock it, preserving the environment and biodiversity? The management of common water resources across borders, as for example what is being done with the Danube river, can be of good inspiration to other European areas. Natura 2000 and national and regional Protected Areas play a crucial role in protection of the resource.

Kivakkakoski water fall © Paanajärvi National Park, Russia

More than ever, cooperation and creative solutions are needed. Stakeholders involvement and awareness raising was one of the main points of discussion, however, indicators to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the different governance models are lacking. The need to have better scientific data, accessible and liable, was also mentioned as necessary for decision making.

Water Policy in Brussels

Water is absolutely connected with many other policies, hence way coherence in needed. At a Commission level, for example, the Commissionaires responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development (Commissionaire Hogan) and Environment, Maritime Affairs and  Fisheries (Commissionaire Vella) are already working together on the topic, and pushing other DGs to work closer. The Water use policy is also linked with Circular Economy and the European Commission is already promoting initiatives for reusing water in agriculture.

Kkeynote speakers mentioned also how international solidarity is ethically mandatory with no-European countries affected by lack of access of water.

MEP Michel Datin, organiser of the event and the Chair of the “Agriculture & Water Management” Working Group of the EP Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”, referred that unfortunately water is considered by elected politicians (MEP, local mayors etc.) a technical issue and not a crucial political issue: it is necessary to increase the politicians awareness.

Datin closed the event with some recommendations:

  • transparency and access to data is needed, and collaboration with scientific;
  • solidarity among all public and private sectors, as well as within the same sectors (e.g. industry) is needed;
  • coherence among policies is needed;
  • it is necessary to find way to evaluate the administration results and governance.


AgendaList of participantsPresentations available:

Water governance across Europe in light of the review of the WFD, Bruno Tisserand, EurEau President

Water Governance – Bridging the gap between policy and implementation,  Alejandro Iza, Environmental Law Programme

 Final official report: will be available soon