Select Committee on European Communities Twenty-Second Report



The Commission, European Environment Agency and Topic Centres

THE EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENT AGENCY AND DG ENVIRONMENT

47.  This is not the first time that the Committee has had occasion to draw attention to the important role of the EEA in underpinning EU environmental policies.[31] Sub­Committee C, during its visit to Denmark, had an informal discussion with the Executive Director, Mr Beltrán, and staff (see box at paragraph 11 and Appendix 7). Earlier the Sub­Committee had taken oral evidence from the European Topic Centre on Nature Conservation (ETCNC) in Paris. These meetings brought out the vital importance of monitoring, and the need for consistency of data, in support of Natura 2000 and the EC Biodiversity Strategy.

48.  The EEA's recent "State of the Environment" Report[32] contains an impressive overview.   Regular summary reports on the progress of Natura 2000 are issued by the Commission in its Natura 2000 newsletter, which includes a chart illustrating comparative progress in the Member States, the "Natura Barometer". We reproduce the latest version overleaf. The "Barometer" was, however, criticised by ETCNC for giving incomplete information about implementation as opposed to identification of sites (QQ 562-5). Nevertheless, it is a useful snapshot of the state of site identification, which (as we have commented in the context of Community enlargement—paragraph 30) is a critical first step.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND NATURA 2000

49.  The ETCNC drew attention to an apparent lack of co­ordination within the Commission and some Member States (QQ 514, 531, 537). This was also borne out by informal comments from the EEA and by the fact that when the Sub­Committee visited the Commission (see Appendix 5), they were struck by the way in which matters relating to the CBD and Natura 2000 were handled by two distinct Units of the then DG XI. The problem is compounded by a general insufficiency of staff and other resources in the Commission, the Agency and the Topic Centre—a point which was emphasised in the IEEP's evidence (IR pp 71­2). The case for closer integration within DG Environment of biodiversity and Natura 2000 work, and the resource implications for the Commission, the European Environment Agency, and the Nature Conservation Topic Centre, are matters which should be revisited when the current organisational upheaval in the Commission has settled down.

MONITORING COMPLIANCE WITH AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE BIRDS AND HABITATS DIRECTIVES

50.  The UK Biodiversity Action Plan sets out a clear process with targets to be achieved for priority species and habitats, and a monitoring and reporting programme to evaluate the success of the actions undertaken. This process will help the Government determine where adjustments to programmes should occur, or where new initiatives (and hence resources) are required. It will also strengthen the case for integrating biodiversity measures into farming, forestry, land use planning and development control, and other areas of policy and support. We have already (in paragraph 14) proposed mechanisms whereby the Government could make necessary judgements and take consequential action.



31   See, for example, ECC 2nd Report, 1997-98, Community Environmental Law: Making it work, HL 12, paragraphs 46­68. Back

32   See footnote 7 to paragraph 4. Back


 
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