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Action Plan for nature, people and the economy

27 April 2017
by eub2 -- last modified 27 April 2017

The European Commission adopted on 27 April 2017 a new Action Plan to improve the protection of nature and biodiversity in the EU, for the benefit of its citizens and the economy. The Plan consists of 15 actions to be carried out by 2019 to rapidly improve the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives - the EU's flagship nature policies.


The 15 actions, to be carried out between now and 2019, focus on 4 priority areas:

Improving guidance and knowledge and ensuring better coherence with broader socio-economic objectives

  • The Commission will help Member States to effectively implement the legislation and reap the economic benefits. We will update, develop and actively promote guidance on site permit procedures, species protection and management as well as sector-specific guidance on important topics such as wind energy, hydropower and aquaculture. New guidance on integrating ecosystem services into decision-making will also be provided.
  • The Commission will help ensure public online access to data necessary for implementing the Directives (e.g. satellite imagery from the Copernicus programme).

Building political ownership and strengthening compliance

  • Providing clarity for stakeholders will strengthen compliance. The Commission will support Member States in putting in place the necessary conservation measures for all sites.
  • The Commission will work with national and regional authorities, landowners and other stakeholders to improve implementation and overcome challenges.

Strengthening investment in Natura 2000 and improving use of EU funding

Better communication and outreach, engaging citizens, stakeholders and communities

  • Support knowledge exchange with local and regional authorities through a joint platform with the Committee of the Regions.
  • Involve young people through the European Solidarity Corps, making full use of the €3.3 million dedicated to the deployment of volunteers to support conservation of Natura 2000 sites and contributing through EU funding to offer young Europeans further cross-border volunteering opportunities or professional experience.
  • Support awareness-raising, use new technologies, and strengthen links between natural and cultural heritage, especially in the context of 2018 as the European year of Cultural Heritage.
  • Proclaim 21 May as the European Natura 2000 Day.


The Nature Directives (Birds Directive (1979) and Habitats Directive (1992)) are the cornerstone of the EU's biodiversity policy. They were subject to a 'Fitness Check' which provided an overall performance evaluation of their effectiveness and efficiency as part of the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme. The Fitness Check engaged all stakeholders, including a positive mobilisation of over 500,000 citizens expressing support for the Directives through the Commission's public consultation – a record level of responses,

The Commission's Conclusions on the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives were published on 16 December 2016. They confirmed that the Nature Directives are fit for purpose but achievement of their objectives and realisation of their full potential will depend upon substantial improvement in their implementation both in relation to effectiveness and efficiency, working in partnership with different stakeholder communities in the Member States and across the EU to deliver practical results on the ground.

Based on the findings of the Fitness Check, the Action Plan was prepared by a project team of 10 Commissioners and also involving the Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, given the key role that regional and local authorities play in the Directives' implementation.