EU Nature Legislation undergoes ‘Fitness check’
As part of its Smart Regulation policy the Commission has initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). In this context, the European Commission is also undertaking a Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives and considers this an important priority for this year.

It involves a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of the current regulatory framework to determine if it is “fit for purpose”. The mandate for the Fitness Check sets out the overall aims of the exercise. The Directives will be assessed against five criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence, and EU added value.

With this Fitness Check the Commission aims to examine, inter alia, the implementation and integration successes and problems, the costs of implementation and of non-implementation of the legislation, opportunities for improving implementation and reducing administrative burden without compromising the integrity of the purpose of the directives, the situation of implementation in different EU countries, as well as the views of key stakeholder groups.

Early February 2015, the Commission, together with a consortium, led by MILIEU Legal and Policy Consultant in partnership with the Institute of European Environment Policy (IEEP), ICF International and ECOSYSTEMS Ltd, started of a structured evidence gathering consultation with all Member States and key stakeholder groups. As Europe’s forest owners are considered one of the key stakeholders, the Commission also invited CEPF to provide input to the evidence gathering phase. A first consultation meeting with DG Environment and representatives from the forest, agriculture and other land users and owners side took place on 10 March.

In April 2015, the Commission will publish an online, 12-week public consultation which will offer stakeholders and interested members of the public an opportunity to express their views on issues covered by the mandate for the Fitness Check of the Nature Directives.

Additional information for the Fitness Check can be found on the following webpage:

As the Birds and Habitats Directive are key references for environmental and biodiversity related policies, private forest owners will be active and keep an close eye on this process – which bears new opportunities but also risks.