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Procedure : 2015/2137(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0003/2016

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PV 01/02/2016 - 15
CRE 01/02/2016 - 15

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PV 02/02/2016 - 6.10
CRE 02/02/2016 - 6.10
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Tuesday, 2 February 2016 - Strasbourg
Mid-term review of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy

European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2016 on the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy (2015/2137(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 2 October 2015 entitled ‘The mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2015)0478),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 20 May 2015 entitled ‘The State of Nature in the European Union: Report on the status of and trends for habitat types and species covered by the Birds and Habitats Directives for the 2007-2012 period as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive and Article 12 of the Birds Directive’ (COM(2015)0219),

–  having regard to the ‘Report on the open public consultation of the “fitness check” on the Birds and Habitats Directives’(1),

–  having regard to the Eurobarometer survey published in October 2015 on the attitudes of people in Europe towards biodiversity (‘Special Eurobarometer 436’),

–  having regard to the report of the European Environment Agency entitled ‘The European Environment – state and outlook 2015’ (‘SOER 2015’),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 February 2014 on the EU Approach against Wildlife Trafficking (COM(2014)0064),

–  having regard to the final report of the Horizon 2020 group of experts on Nature-Based Solutions and Re-Naturing Cities entitled ‘Towards an EU Research and Innovation policy agenda for Nature-Based Solutions and Re-Naturing Cities’, published in 2015,

–  having regard to the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), which forms part of the LIFE financial instrument for environmental and climate measures,

–  having regard to the Commission consultation on the future EU initiative under the motto ‘no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services’,

–  having regard to the results of the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in particular: the mid-term review of progress in implementing the strategic biodiversity action plan 2011-2020, including the fourth edition of the Global Diversity Outlook, with a view to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; and measures to improve implementation,

–  having regard to the COP 10 Decision X/34 on biodiversity, which stresses the importance of agricultural biodiversity for food security and nutrition, especially in the face of climate change and limited natural resources, as recognised by the Rome Declaration of the 2009 World Summit on Food Security,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Environment Council meeting of 12 June 2014, in particular the undertaking by the EU and its Member States to increase resources with a view to achieving the Hyderabad commitments, by doubling total biodiversity‑related financial resources flows by 2015;

–  having regard to the report of the CBD secretariat and the World Health Organisation (WHO) entitled ‘Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health – A State of Knowledge Review’, published in 2015,

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution submitted at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly for approval of the post-2015 development agenda, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’,

–  having regard to the reports on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a worldwide initiative geared to ‘making nature's values visible’,

–  having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),

–  having regard to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered animal species,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species(2),

–  having regard to the International Maritime Organisation International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments,

–  having regard to the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013, and in particular to Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing rules for direct payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the common agricultural policy(3) and to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC(5),

–  having regard to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2012 on our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2013 on Green Infrastructure – Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2015 on ‘A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector’(8),

–  having regard to the European Parliamentary Research Service study of April 2015 entitled ‘Safeguarding biological diversity – EU policy and international agreements’,

–  regard to the report by Forest Europe entitled ‘State of Europe's Forests 2015’(9),

–  having regard to the study by its Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs of 2009 on national legislation and practices with regard to the implementation of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, particularly Article 6,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions, adopted at the 115th plenary session of 3 and 4 December 2015, entitled ‘Contribution to the Fitness Check on the EU Birds and Habitats Directives’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0003/2016),

A.  recalling that biodiversity encompasses the unique variety of ecosystems, habitats, species and genes on Earth, on which human beings are heavily dependent;

B.  whereas biodiversity has an overwhelming intrinsic value that must be protected for the benefit of future generations; whereas biodiversity also provides benefits for human health and contributes enormous social and economic value, and whereas the socio‑economic opportunity cost of missing the biodiversity headline target is estimated to be EUR 50 billion a year;

C.  whereas agriculture plays a major role in the achievement of biodiversity objectives; whereas the need for efficient food production – to feed a rapidly increasing world population – and energy policy objectives which call for increased use of biomass as an energy source are making significant demands of the farming industry;

D.  whereas the agricultural and forestry sectors contribute to preserving biodiversity in the context of the application of existing legislation;

E.  whereas the diversity of plant species and varieties traditionally cultivated by small and medium-sized farms and family farms is of huge importance in terms of both responding to various needs and uses in rural communities and reducing crop vulnerability to adverse weather, pests and diseases;

F.  whereas sustainable and responsible land cultivation and livestock breeding make an essential contribution to preserving biodiversity;

G.  whereas biodiversity is under severe pressure worldwide, which is bringing about irreversible changes that are profoundly detrimental to nature, society and the economy;

H.  whereas Aichi Target 11 calls for the protection of at least 17 % of terrestrial and inland water areas through effectively managed systems of protected areas; whereas the proportion of European ecoregions having 17 % of their territory within protected areas is much reduced when areas protected solely by Natura 2000 are excluded;

I.  whereas the restoration of ecosystems can have a positive impact on both the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change;

J.  whereas at least 8 in every 10 EU citizens regard the impact of biodiversity loss as serious, and whereas 552 470 citizens participated in the public consultation on the fitness check for the Nature Directives, the largest-ever response to any Commission consultation; whereas, according to the Eurobarometer survey, citizens wish to receive more information about biodiversity loss and most people are not familiar with Natura 2000;

K.  whereas considerable numbers of committed citizens, acting either on their own initiative or as members of local or regional action groups, are taking local and regional measures to promote biodiversity and are thereby achieving positive results within a relatively short timeframe;

L.  whereas 65 % of EU citizens live within 5 km of a Natura 2000 site, and 98 % live within 20 km, suggesting that these sites have the potential to help raise awareness of biodiversity and to deliver ecosystem services that contribute to the well-being of a large proportion of the EU's population;

M.  whereas biodiversity policies must be in full compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, so that regional differences in landscapes and habitats are fully respected;

N.  having regard to the importance of biodiversity in the outermost regions and the overseas countries and territories, which represent unique reserves of endemic flora and fauna species; whereas the Birds and Habitats Directives are nonetheless not applied in some of these regions;

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the mid-term review of the biodiversity strategy, and the ‘State of Nature’ and ‘SOER 2015’ reports; stresses the strategic importance of these reports for achieving the EU’s biodiversity targets;

2.  Expresses its serious concern about the continuing loss of biodiversity; notes that the 2020 targets will not be achieved without additional, substantial and continuous efforts; observes, at the same time, that scientific evidence has demonstrated that Europe’s nature would be in a much worse state without the positive impact of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, and that targeted and appropriately financed efforts genuinely produce positive results; stresses, however, that there is still great potential for improvement;

3.  Stresses that habitat destruction is the most important factor driving biodiversity loss and is a particular priority when it comes to addressing this loss, i.e. through reducing degradation and fragmentation;

4.  Stresses that biodiversity loss refers not only to species and habitats but also to genetic diversity; calls on the Commission to develop a strategy for the conservation of genetic diversity;

5.  Underlines the critical role of biodiversity in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goals 14 (‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’) and 15 (‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss’); recalls that the EU has incredible biodiversity, in particular thanks to its outermost regions, but also to the overseas countries and territories associated with it; calls, therefore, for the EU to remain strongly committed to further strengthening the Convention on Biological Diversity and to ensure that it is implemented effectively;

6.  Notes that habitat fragmentation, degradation and destruction as a result of land-use change, climate change, unsustainable consumption patterns and the use of the seas are some of the main pressures and drivers causing biodiversity loss in the EU and beyond its borders; emphasises, therefore, the need to identify and establish indicators that unequivocally and scientifically measure the state of biodiversity in a given area or region and to support rational and sustainable use of resources both within the EU and at global level, including in developing countries, and, in particular, urges the EU to better anchor its international biodiversity commitments to its climate change and Europe 2020 strategies; stresses that a more resource-efficient economy and a reduction in overconsumption could enable the EU to reduce its dependence on natural resources, in particular from outside Europe; recalls also that ecosystem-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation could provide cost-effective alternatives to technological solutions, while progress in many applied sciences depends on the long‑term availability and diversity of natural assets;

7.  Stresses the crucial importance of increased political will at the highest level to safeguard biodiversity and halt biodiversity loss; considers the implementation of existing legislation, enforcement and further integration of biodiversity protection into other policy areas to be essential; calls, in particular, on regional and local authorities in the Member States to provide information about, and raise awareness of, biodiversity;

8.  Deplores the fact that, in Europe, around a quarter of wild species are at risk of extinction and many ecosystems are degraded, giving rise to severe social and economic damage for the EU;

9.  Stresses that nature and economic development are not mutually exclusive; is convinced of the need to embed nature more fully in society, including the economy and private enterprises, in order to generate sustainable economic growth and take proactive measures to protect, restore and better manage the environment; considers, in particular, that a commitment to reducing the exploitation of resources must be central in merging environmental and economic goals;

10.  Emphasises that biodiversity loss has devastating economic costs for society, which until now have not been integrated sufficiently into economic and other policies; considers it vital to recognise that investing in biodiversity is essential from a socio-economic point of view; notes that one in six jobs in the EU depends to some extent on nature and biodiversity; stresses that biodiversity has significant potential to create new skills, jobs and business opportunities; welcomes methods for measuring the economic value of biodiversity; considers that these instruments can raise awareness, improve the use of available resources and result in better decision-making;

11.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the role that biodiversity and ecosystems play in economic affairs, with a view to moving to a green economy urges the Commission to step up the measures taken in support of the greening of the European Semester; stresses that biodiversity is an overall social responsibility which cannot be based solely on public expenditure;

12.  Takes the view that the economic value of biodiversity should be reflected in indicators which guide decision-making, without leading to the commodification of biodiversity, and which go beyond GDP; is convinced that this will benefit the pursuit of the SDGs; calls, in this connection, for the systematic integration of biodiversity values into national accounting systems as part of the SDG monitoring process;

13.  Stresses that the EU and its Member States failed to meet the Biodiversity Strategy targets for 2010; calls on the Commission, given the lack of progress towards achieving the 2020 biodiversity targets, to provide Parliament with two-yearly reports in which the Council and the Commission elaborate on the state of play, reasons for non-achievement and the strategy for ensuring future compliance;

Mid-term review of the Biodiversity Strategy

Headline target

14.  Calls on the Commission and Member States, as a matter of urgency, to give higher priority to achieving the 2020 targets; calls for a multi-stakeholder approach and stresses the vital role of national, regional and local actors, and of their full participation in this process; stresses that funding and greater public awareness and understanding of, and support for, biodiversity protection are also essential; considers that a good information policy and the early involvement of all actors concerned, including socio-economic actors, is therefore key to achieving these objectives;

15.  Calls for the EU to reduce its biodiversity footprint worldwide, in line with the principle of Policy Coherence for Development, and to bring it within the ecological limits of ecosystems by making progress in achieving the biodiversity headline targets and fulfilling the commitments on biodiversity protection; calls also for the EU to assist developing countries in their efforts to conserve biodiversity and ensure its sustainable use;

Target 1

16.  Deplores the slow progress made by Member States in implementing EU environmental legislation; highlights the need for more information on the status of implementation in the Member States;

17.  Stresses that full implementation and enforcement, and adequate financing, of the Nature Directives is a vital prerequisite for ensuring the success of the strategy as a whole and meeting its headline target; calls, given the short time available, on all parties concerned to do their utmost to achieve this and to generate broad support;

18.  Urges EU leaders to listen to the half a million citizens who have called for our strong nature protection laws to be upheld and better implemented;

19.  Calls on the Commission to improve the guidelines, which should facilitate the full implementation and enforcement of the directives in accordance with existing case law; calls on the Commission to give higher priority to dialogue with Member States and all relevant stakeholders, including socio-economic actors, in order to encourage exchanges of best practices;

20.  Acknowledges that one of the principal benefits of the Nature Directives is the extent to which they help ensure a level playing field across the EU by providing a basic standard of environmental protection that all Member States must meet, in accordance with the requirements for common standards and the principle of mutual recognition within the single market;

21.  Notes that in 2012 only 58 % of the Natura 2000 sites had management plans; is concerned by the divergent levels of implementation; urges the Member States to complete the designation of terrestrial and marine Natura 2000 sites and draw up management plans, in consultation with all stakeholders;

22.  Stresses that while the management of Natura 2000 sites across the EU costs a minimum of EUR 5,8 billion, they bring environmental and socio-economic benefits worth EUR 200 billion to EUR 300 billion annually; calls on the Member States to ensure that Natura 2000 sites are managed transparently;

23.  Acknowledges the vital contribution that Marine Protected Areas established under the Natura 2000 network will play in achieving a Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and in delivering the global target of 10 % of coastal and marine areas being protected, as set out in Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, by 2020; regrets that this target is still far from being achieved;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase data collection and the monitoring of habitats and species, in particular where there are major gaps, in order to evaluate the progress made in achieving these targets;

25.  Expresses its concern that there is still no detailed insight into the actual funding and financing of nature conservation by each Member State; considers this to be a significant gap in our knowledge; calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify and compile the relevant national budget lines without delay;

26.  Reiterates its previous calls for EU co-funding for the management of Natura 2000 sites, which should be complementary to the rural development, structural and fisheries funds, and to funds made available by the Member States;

27.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to continue to enforce the Nature Directives conscientiously; stresses that compliance with, and enforcement of, EU legislation must be improved by, for example, the use of proportionate, effective and dissuasive penalties;

28.  Calls, in that context, for additional efforts to halt all illegal killing, trapping and trading of birds and to resolve resulting local conflicts; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop new tools for detecting illegal activities within Natura 2000 sites;

Target 2

29.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a specific proposal for the development of a trans-European network for green infrastructure (TEN-G) by 2017; encourages the joint development, in conjunction with the Member States, of a strategy for European wildlife corridors for targeted species;

30.  Calls on those Member States that have not done so to develop and implement ecosystem restoration prioritisation frameworks immediately;

31.  Calls on the Member States to prioritise the target of restoring 15 % of degraded ecosystems by 2020 and to use the appropriations available within the MFF for this purpose; calls on the Commission to come forward with guidelines on how to use such appropriations for restoring degraded ecosystems and for biodiversity protection in general;

32.  Draws attention to the importance of agriculture and forestry for attaining this target, and to the need for sustainable solutions for agriculture and forestry;

33.  Recognises the adverse impact of air pollution on biodiversity and ecosystem services, with critical loads for nutrient nitrogen and acidity being used as an indicator of pressure on natural ecosystems and species diversity;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest in biodiversity in order to support companies’ ability to innovate, particularly in the area of ecological engineering;

Target 3

35.  Notes that incorporating nature conservation into other policy areas remains of paramount importance, and stresses the crucial role of agriculture and forestry in this connection;

36.  Stresses that the preservation of biodiversity is key for the production of food and feed, and is therefore in the vested interest of farmers; highlights the importance of a multi‑stakeholder approach which also actively involves and encourages farmers and forestry operators to address these challenges jointly;

37.  Recalls that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) already has instruments for restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, such as the Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs); points out that restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, including in Natura 2000 areas, is highlighted as one of six key priorities for rural development in the EU;

38.  Notes with regret that there has not yet been a measurable improvement in biodiversity status in agriculture, but recognises that it is still too early to gauge the real effectiveness of the reformed CAP; welcomes the Commission’s plans to evaluate progress in implementing the CAP, and urges the Commission and the Member States to monitor, assess and, if necessary, improve the effectiveness of greening measures –including the assessment of Member State flexibility – and relevant rural development measures in the context of the CAP; calls on the Commission to take account of its findings in the mid‑term review of the CAP;

39.  Calls on the Member States to make better use of existing CAP and cohesion policy instruments to assist farmers and forestry operators in achieving biodiversity targets; highlights the need to promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and traditional agricultural varieties, together with sustainable solutions for agriculture and forestry;

40.  Stresses that EFAs should in principle be areas for the protection and promotion of agro‑ecological processes such as pollination and soil conservation; asks the Commission to publish data on how many Member States have been permitting the use of pesticides and fertilisers in these EFAs since Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 came into force;

41.  Calls on the Commission, in the interests of transparency, to make public the justifications given by Member States for their choice of greening measures;

42.  Insists that the Commission and the Member States ensure that financial resources under the CAP are redirected from subsidising environmentally harmful activities to financing sustainable agricultural practices and maintaining connected biodiversity;

43.  Stresses the need to protect agricultural biodiversity in developing countries in order to achieve food security; calls on the Commission, therefore, to invest in agro-ecology in developing countries, in line with the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food;

44.  Calls on the Commission to promote the sustainable management of the world's forests by ensuring ecological processes and forest biodiversity and productivity and by respecting the rights of indigenous people to sustain forest resources; calls, in addition, on the Commission to prohibit the destruction of natural forests, to safeguard endangered species and to ban toxic pesticides and the planting of genetically modified trees;

45.  Calls on the Commission to take greater account, as part of its strategy to support biodiversity, of tropical forests, given their concentration of ecosystems, habitats and particularly endangered vulnerable species, their vital role for the environmental balance and the climate, and their social and cultural function for native populations;

46.  Calls for the Member States to develop and implement forest management plans with the aim of improving the conservation status of forest habitats and species and improving the availability of information; asks the Commission to develop criteria and standards for the collection of information on forest biodiversity, with a view to ensuring consistency and comparability;

47.  Draws attention to the potential threat to biodiversity posed by the growing demand for agrofuels and the increasingly intense pressure on developing countries to produce them, through the conversion and degradation of habitats and ecosystems such as wetlands and forests;

48.  Urges that social and environmental sustainability criteria for biomass production form a coherent part of the framework laid down by the Renewable Energy Directive (RED); deems it crucial to develop sustainability standards for all sectors in which biomass may be used, together with sustainable forest management criteria to ensure that bioenergy does not contribute to climate change or become an additional driver of land grabs and food insecurity;

49.  Notes with concern that 90 % of the palm oil consumed in the world is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia at the expense of peat forests, which are burned down to make way for large acacia and oil-palm plantations; points to the fact that, according to a study conducted by the World Bank, Indonesia has become the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, precisely because of forest fires;

Target 4

50.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement the reformed Common Fisheries Policy correctly and promptly, applying ecosystem-based fisheries management in order to achieve the goal of maximum sustainable yield by, inter alia, promoting sustainable and innovative catch methods; stresses the importance of reducing pollution in order to safeguard, inter alia, marine biodiversity and stocks, and to support economic growth via the blue economy;

51.  Stresses the fundamental importance of marine ecosystems and resources as a foundation for sustainable development for coastal countries; calls on the Member States to implement previous commitments fully and to work with governments at the global, regional and national levels to deliver a significant scale-up of ambition and action with a view to achieving equitable and economically and ecologically sustainable fisheries;

52.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the EU plays a leading role in securing an agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond the jurisdiction of states;

53.  Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and third countries to improve the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

54.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the environmental quality of EU seas by carrying out projects seeking to cut chemical, physical and microbiological pollution by optimising the sustainability of maritime traffic and protecting biodiversity, which is inevitably endangered; notes, in this connection, that 12,7 million tonnes of plastic (5 % of total production) end up in the oceans each year through sewer systems, waterways and landfills along coasts, which disrupts the environment and the biodiversity of the entire planet;

Target 5

55.  Urges the Commission to establish, without delay and in accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014, an accurate and comprehensive list of invasive alien species which are of concern to the Union, on the understanding that such a list should not be limited to a fixed number of species and should include complete and coherent implementation actions – underpinned by appropriate resources – aimed at achieving the targets; stresses the importance of regularly updating this list and carrying out additional risk assessments for species, so that the legislation on invasive alien species can act as a powerful lever;

56.  Calls on all Member States to ratify the International Maritime Organisation Ballast Water Management Convention with a view to preventing the spread of invasive alien species through maritime and inland water transport and contributing to the implementation and achievement of the target;

57.  Calls on the Member States to monitor imports of exotic species into their territory and to report regularly on them to the Commission and other Member States; calls for greater restrictions on imports and private possession of endangered species, including primates, reptiles and amphibians;

Target 6

58.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020, ensuring that evaluations of such subsidies are completed by 2016 and that reporting requirements are incorporated into relevant EU sectoral policy areas; urges the Commission and the Member States to fully endorse and facilitate the transition to a circular economy;

59.  Urges the remaining Member States to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation ahead of COP-MOP 2 in December 2016;

60.  Recalls that, at the global level, the EU makes a significant contribution to the fight against biodiversity loss and that, with its Member States, it is the main donor of funds for biodiversity conservation and the biggest contributor of official development assistance for biodiversity;

61.  Welcomes the Commission's B4Life flagship project for 2014-2020, but believes that the EU must step up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss, and calls for the EU and its Member States to deliver on their Hyderabad commitments to double total biodiversity-related funding flows to developing countries by 2015 and to maintain this level until at least 2020;

62.  Stresses that wildlife crime and habitat loss pose a direct and prevalent threat to global biodiversity; recognises that the omission of wildlife trafficking and the lack of action relating to EU involvement in CITES are a serious gap in the EU Biodiversity Strategy; underlines the urgent need for coordinated action to combat the illegal wildlife trade; calls on the Commission to submit an ambitious action plan for combating illegal trafficking in wild animals and plants, and in products derived from them, and calls for similar measures to be taken to tackle deforestation and forest degradation;

Fitness check of the Nature Directives

63.  Stresses that the Nature Directives are milestones for nature policy, not only within the EU but also internationally; considers that, thanks to their concise, coherent and consistent form, these Nature Directives can, so to speak, be regarded as smart regulation avant la lettre;

64.  Stresses that Natura 2000 is still a relatively young network, whose full potential is far from having been achieved; considers that the Nature Directives remain relevant and that best practices in implementation demonstrate their effectiveness; stresses that there is ample flexibility in the Nature Directives, including the option for adaptation according to technical and scientific progress; notes that smart implementation and international cooperation are essential for reaching the biodiversity targets;

65.  Opposes a possible revision of the Nature Directives because this would jeopardise the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy, would bring about a protracted period of legal uncertainty, with the risk that it would result in weakened legislative protection and financing, and would be bad for nature, for people and for business; emphasises, in this connection, that the ongoing REFIT check of the Nature Directives should focus on improving implementation;

66.  Is convinced that any difficulties in achieving the objectives of the Nature Directives and the Biodiversity Strategy in general lie not with the legislation but primarily with its incomplete, divergent and inadequate implementation, enforcement and integration into other policy areas;

67.  Stresses that there is ample flexibility within the Nature Directives to facilitate their implementation taking into account economic, social, cultural and regional requirements, as enshrined in the Habitats Directive; urges the Commission, nevertheless, to clarify their interpretation and implementation guidelines in order to avoid and resolve sticking points;

68.  Calls for a detailed examination of the role of large predators and the possible introduction of adjustment measures to ensure that biodiversity, the agricultural landscape and the centuries-old practice of letting stock graze in mountain regions are maintained;

69.  Recognises the benefits of EU nature legislation for the preservation of ecosystems, habitats and species in protected areas; regrets, however, that the French outermost regions, which constitute unique reserves of species and ecosystems and represent a significant proportion of European and global biodiversity, are excluded from this legislative framework and from all other legislative frameworks adapted to their specific characteristics; emphasises, however, the success of all projects financed by the LIFE+ programme in these regions and of the European BEST initiative to strengthen biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change in the outermost regions and the overseas countries and territories;

70.  Calls on the Commission, following on from the BEST preparatory action, to introduce a sustainable funding mechanism for biodiversity protection in the outermost regions and the overseas countries and territories;

The way ahead: additional measures

71.  Regards biodiversity loss outside protected nature areas as a gap in the strategy; encourages the Commission and the Member States to gather information about these habitats and species and to develop appropriate frameworks to prevent habitat fragmentation and the net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services by working with local authorities and civil society;

72.  Considers that such a framework must comprise a bundle of complementary measures that address the root causes of biodiversity loss and improve the integration of biodiversity in sectoral policies, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy and transport;

73.  Encourages the Member States to ensure, by means of urban planning initiatives, the carefully considered use of space and adequate protection of the Natura 2000 network, to preserve open spaces – in particular by opting for a pastoralist approach rather than abandoning the land, which increases natural risks such as avalanches, mudslides and ground movements – and to establish a coherent network of blue-green infrastructure in rural and urban areas, while at the same time creating the requisite legal certainty for economic activities; calls on the Commission to produce an overview of best practices in this area;

74.  Considers it essential, in order to use the available resources more efficiently and in a more targeted manner, that the Commission draw up specific criteria for the Natural Capital Financing Facility, which must guarantee that projects deliver appropriate, positive and scientifically tangible results for biodiversity; considers that LIFE projects should be linked to funding from other programme streams such as the Structural Funds, so as to scale up and replicate successful projects through the EU and create a larger multiplier effect;

75.  Calls on the Commission to expand the multi-fund approach to biodiversity financing, and calls for better linkage between the various financing tools;

76.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve coherence across relevant sectoral policies with a view to incorporating biodiversity goals while ensuring that the next MFF guarantees no net overall loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

77.  Calls on the Commission to set up a high-level group on natural capital with a view to achieving these goals by giving them greater political prominence and priority;

78.  Regrets that EU environmental law is not subject to coherent and effective environmental inspections and surveillance aimed at detecting and preventing breaches of environmental law across different sectors, including for protected nature conservation sites; welcomes the preparatory work undertaken towards an EU framework for environmental inspections, and calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal without further delay;

79.  Stresses the importance of innovation, research and development in order to achieve the objectives of the Nature Directives, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to focus in particular on the links between biodiversity preservation and benefits to human health and economic well-being, and to coordinate data collection measures; recalls that there are still large gaps in knowledge regarding the state of marine ecosystems and fishery resources; calls on the Member States to ensure that data on the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the wider environment are collected and are publicly available;

80.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch a European initiative on pollinators without delay – paying particular attention to pest resistance in plants affecting bees and other pollinators – and on the basis of policies already conducted in the Member States, and to make proposals on the soil framework directive, on a directive on access to justice and on the revised EU legal framework for environmental inspections without further delay;

81.  Highlights with concern the increasing body of scientific evidence which demonstrates the negative effect neonicotinoid pesticides can have on essential services such as pollination and natural pest control; calls, therefore, on the Commission to maintain its ban on the use of neonicotinoids;

82.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to apply fully the precautionary principle when authorising the use and the environmental release of living modified organisms, in order to prevent any negative impact on biodiversity;

83.  Stresses the importance of the LIFE programme for the environment, and in particular the Nature and Biodiversity subprogramme, in order to protect and enhance European biodiversity;

84.  Strongly believes that the environment and innovation complement one another, and draws particular attention to nature-based solutions which provide both economically and environmentally smart solutions to address challenges such as climate change, scarcity of raw materials, pollution and antimicrobial resistance; calls on the relevant stakeholders to take up these ‘calls’ under Horizon 2020; calls on the Member States to be more effective in leaving regulatory room to facilitate smart solutions which deliver positive outcomes for biodiversity;

85.  Stresses that the issues relating to biodiversity, climate change and scarcity of raw materials are inseparably linked; recalls that maintaining climate change well below 2° Celsius as compared with pre-industrial levels will be essential for preventing biodiversity loss; recalls, meanwhile, that a range of ecosystems act as a buffer against natural hazards, thereby contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies;

86.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take this into account by ensuring that the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2020 is fully integrated with the EU's position in discussions on a new international agreement on climate change, especially in the light of the fact that, according to the EU-funded ROBIN project, biodiversity protection is part of the solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly given that tropical forests have the potential to mitigate 25 % of total greenhouse gas emissions;

87.  Calls on the Commission to include matters relating to the environment and climate change in the international agreements it concludes and to carry out environmental analyses focused on the possibilities for protecting and improving biodiversity; stresses the importance of systematically identifying and evaluating potential impacts on biodiversity; calls on the Commission to follow up on the findings of the study entitled ‘Identification and mitigation of the negative impacts of EU demand for certain commodities on biodiversity in third countries’ by proposing possible ways to contribute to avoiding or minimising the loss of global biodiversity caused by certain production and consumption patterns in the EU;

88.  Urges the Member States – on the basis of the precautionary principle and the principle that preventive action should be taken, and taking into account the risks and the negative climate, environmental and biodiversity impacts involved in hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons, and the gaps identified in the EU regulatory regime for shale gas activities – not to authorise any new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU;

89.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the Guadeloupe roadmap adopted in October 2014 is acted on, and to put in place the necessary tools for biodiversity protection in the outermost regions and the overseas countries and territories;

90.  Stresses the global role of the EU Biodiversity Strategy; calls on the Commission to integrate biodiversity provisions into ongoing trade negotiations and to integrate biodiversity objectives into EU trade policies;

o   o

91.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(2) OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, p. 35.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 608.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 487.
(5) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 22.
(6) OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 99.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0600.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0109.

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