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Parliamentary question - E-4508/2010(ASW)Parliamentary question

Joint answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-4508/10 , E-4535/10


1. In light of the ongoing discussions on the future financial perspectives of the EU, the Commission is not currently in a position to answer the question of whether investment in biodiversity will be prioritised. The 2020 biodiversity target adopted by the Council in March and endorsed by the 27 EU Heads of State and Government does, however, commit the EU to halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss. This is an ambitious target which, to be achieved, will require substantive investments. The Council, in its conclusions of March 2010, also highlighted insufficient funding as one of the main reasons for the EU having missed its 2010 target.

2. The Council has repeatedly underscored the importance of ensuring the integration of biodiversity into sectoral policies, most recently in its conclusions of March 2010.

With regard to agriculture and forestry, the Rural Development pillar of the common agricultural policy (CAP) is the major source of funding for biodiversity protection. The EU Strategic Guidelines identified the protection of biodiversity as one of the main environmental priorities in the rural development policy 2007‑13. The financial support for biodiversity and Natura 2000 can be provided, among others, via agri- and forest-environment measures and specific Natura 2000 measures. Furthermore, rural development support can be used for the drawing-up of protection and management plans relating to Natura 2000 sites and other places of high natural value, for environmental awareness actions and investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the natural heritage and with the development of high natural value sites (and in this way supporting more thoroughly bio-diversity issues). In addition, the full granting of pillar 1 as well as some area and animal-related payments under rural development is conditional on farmers meeting certain minimum environmental rules, and some of these so called cross-compliance rules are beneficial to biodiversity. However, it is clear that farmers are particularly well placed to support biodiversity, and more could certainly be done through the CAP to increase this contribution in the post 2013 period, and to help ensure that other CAP measures do not cause damage to biodiversity.

With regard to the marine environment, the overarching objective to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020 set by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive[1] provides a new framework for EU policies regulating human activities having an impact on the marine environment. The Common Fisheries policy has a clear role to contribute to achieving such objective. In this respect, the Commission would like to underline how the Green paper on the reform of the common fisheries policy[2], acknowledges it and defines environmental sustainability as a precondition for fishing activities to deliver social and economic benefits.

The EU's research Framework Programmes (FP), together with Member States' research investments, are helping to strengthen the European approach to biodiversity, land use and climate change research and improve scientific support to policy for the EU and its partner regions, including those of the developing world. Research undertaken under the current (7th) FP and those of the previous periods, especially the ones investigating on the pressures on biodiversity, are feeding into the development of the EU biodiversity policy.

In relation to EU Cohesion policy the Community Strategic Guidelines and the relevant fund regulations include clear references to the importance of nature protection in developing infrastructure and in relation to economic diversification. Moreover, the 2007‑13 programming period of the Cohesion Policy addresses directly the preservation of biodiversity. The most relevant categories are the ‘Promotion of biodiversity and nature protection (including Natura 2000)’ (cat. No 51) ‘Protection of natural assets’ (cat. No 55), additionally, projects implemented under other themes and categories like the ‘Protection and development of natural heritage’ (cat. No 56) under ‘Tourism’ have the potential to contribute to biodiversity.

In addition to the opportunities available under the EU funding streams, the Commission aims to enhance voluntary approaches. This is reflected in the recently launched web-based EU Business and Biodiversity Platform[3], which is aimed at enhancing partnerships with and involvement of private sector to better integrate biodiversity concerns into their operations and which's first set of priority sectors addressed are agriculture, food supply chain, forestry, extractive industry, tourism and the financial sector; the initiative for European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) for the tourism sector[4].

3. The Commission firmly believes that it is necessary to strengthen the global science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services. It has to be ensured that policy‑makers come to their decisions on the basis of the best available scientific advice. To achieve this it is essential to better connect the scientific and policy communities so that scientific findings are taken up and more rapidly find their way into the policy debate. We consider the creation of an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services as an appropriate way to achieve this objective and welcome the results of the third IPBES meeting at the beginning of June in Busan/Republic of Korea where agreement was reached on the establishment of an IPBES (interinstitutional Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). The Commission supports the UNEP-led process with a financial contribution of EUR 1 million from the 2009 Annual Action Programme for the implementation of the ‘Thematic Strategy Paper for the Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, including Energy (ENRTP) for the period 2007‑10’.

OJ C 170 E, 10/06/2011