An opportunity to voice opinion on the Birds and Habitats Directives


For some time the European Commission has been progressing a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) which seeks to evaluate legislation in full from its design to implementation and enforcement. Part of this exercise involves a ‘Fitness Check’, i.e. an assessment if the law is ‘fit for purpose’, proportionate and working as expected. Until 24 July 2015 the European Commission is consulting on the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds and Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora).

The Fitness Check

A number of key questions addressed within the Fitness Check criteria are:-

  • Effectiveness: Have the objectives been met?
  • Efficiency: Were the costs involved reasonable? 
  • Coherence: Does the policy complement other actions or are there contradictions?
  • Relevance: Is EU action still necessary?
  • EU added value: Can or could similar changes have been achieved at national/regional level, or did
  • EU action provide clear added value?

The Fitness Check is to examine:

  • 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 Member States.
  • The views of key stakeholder groups.

Evidence in the consultation process

In order to obtain evidence information is to be and was obtained via:- 

1. the European Commission’s State of Nature in the EU report and the mid-term view of the Biodiversity Strategy, expected later in 2015.

2. Consultation of all 28 Member States and selected key stakeholder groups between January-April 2015.

3. Meetings between April and the end of June 2015 in ten Member States in order to gather and examine evidence in more detail. The ten Member States are the Netherlands (16-17 April), Germany (20-21 April), Poland (23-24 April), Spain (5-6 May), Malta (12-13 May), France (19-20 May), United Kingdom (1-2 June), Sweden (8-9 June), Slovakia (23-24 June), and Estonia (29-30 June, tbc).

4. a 12-week public Internet consultation from 30 April- 24 July 2015

The internet consultation

The questionnaire is in two parts: an initial set of general questions followed by a more detailed set of questions. Only responses submitted via the questionnaire will be analysed as part of the consultation process. The results of the public consultation will be published in the autumn.

A list of EU Commission studies and peer-reviewed and published key documents relevant for the evaluation of the Directives has also been prepared. Any proposals for additions to the list should be sent to with a short explanation of the relevance of the document in relation to the consultation questions or the Fitness Check criteria.
It is anticipated that in October 2015 draft results of the evaluation will be shared and discussed with Member States and key stakeholder groups followed by publication of an EU Commission report on the results of the Fitness Check in early 2016. 

The consultation page can be found by clicking here.