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Document 52005IP0078

European Parliament resolution on Financing Natura 2000 (2004/2164(INI))

OJ C 320E , 15.12.2005, p. 267–271 (ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, SK, SL, FI, SV)

52005IP0078

European Parliament resolution on Financing Natura 2000 (2004/2164(INI))

Official Journal 320 E , 15/12/2005 P. 0267 - 0271


P6_TA(2005)0078

Financing Natura 2000

European Parliament resolution on Financing Natura 2000 (2004/2164(INI))

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament — Financing Natura 2000 (COM(2004)0431),

- having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity,

- having regard to Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds [1] ("the Birds Directive"),

- having regard to its resolution of 20 October 1998 on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on a European Community biodiversity strategy [2],

- having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2001 on implementation of Directive 92/43/EEC on habitats [3],

- having regard to the Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2002 laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme [4],

- having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2002 on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the biodiversity action plans in the areas of conservation of natural resources, agriculture, fisheries, and development and economic cooperation [5],

- having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0049/2005),

A. whereas at the European Council meeting in Gothenburg in June 2001 [6], European Heads of State and Government made a commitment to reverse the decline of biodiversity in the European Union by the year 2010,

B. whereas the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme specifies the objective to protect and where necessary restore the structure and funding of natural systems and halt the loss of biodiversity, both in the European Union and on a global scale by 2010,

C. whereas the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 recognised that biodiversity plays a critical role in overall sustainable development and poverty eradication, and is essential to our planet, human well-being and the livelihood and cultural integrity of people; and whereas the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation confirmed the global objective of achieving a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biological diversity by 2010,

D. whereas the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, made up of sites designated under the Birds Directive and Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora [7] ("the Habitats Directive"), is a key pillar of Community action for the conservation of biodiversity,

E. whereas in the past most Member States have made limited use of the opportunities under the current rural development regulation to implement Natura 2000; whereas rural development and regional development programmes have often worked against EU nature conservation priorities,

F. whereas farmers and forest owners can make a significant contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on farmland through their management practices, and in many cases this results in additional spending which must be adequately compensated,

G. whereas in 2004, out of a total EU budget of EUR 111,3 billion, EU funding for agricultural market expenditure and direct aid amounted to EUR 40,2 billion, compared to EUR 6,5 billion for rural development policy; whereas the present rural development policy is still geared towards structural policy objectives, rather than ensuring nature protection and supporting environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices,

H. whereas the Commission proposals for the financial perspective covering the period 2007-2013 respect the decision taken by the Council in 2002 in Brussels to freeze agricultural expenditure at the 2006 level, allowing for a yearly adaptation for inflation of 1%; whereas these proposals thus foresee an amount of EUR 301 billion for agricultural spending on market expenditure and direct payments (on average EUR 43 billion per year) and an amount of EUR 88,75 billion for rural development measures (on average EUR 12,6 billion); whereas the amounts for rural development include EAGGF measures formerly financed under Structural Funds,

I. whereas, despite the fact that in 2002 the European Council had not set any ceilings on rural development measures, the budget for such measures has also been frozen at the level of 2006, only adding appropriations for Bulgaria and Romania, which will not allow for the addition of a new major task such as co-financing the managing of the Natura 2000 network without a corresponding increase in the budget,

J. whereas the Commission estimates the annual costs of managing the Natura 2000 network at EUR 6,1 billion per year, without taking into account marine protected areas,

K. whereas the Member States agreed in Malahide ( 27 May 2004) that arrangements need to be established which ensure adequate and guaranteed Community co-financing for the Natura 2000 network, and whereas the Message from Malahide also states that "this should include inter alia the enhancement of Life-Nature funding in the new Financial Instrument for the Environment alongside enhanced funding from the structural and rural development funds",

L. whereas the Commission, in its communication on the Financial Perspectives for 2007-2013 (COM (2004)0487), states that "the Commission will require Member States to show how they have taken the financing needs of the environment, including relevant aspects of Natura 2000, into account in developing their national programmes under the structural funds ...",

M. whereas the Commission analyses three different scenarios for the future financing of the Natura 2000 network in its communication,

N. whereas the Commission and the Council, in adopting the Habitats Directive in 1992, made a clear commitment to ensure that landowners and landusers would not bear the financial burden of the measures in the directive; strongly urging that this promise be kept,

1. Notes that the Natura 2000 network of protected areas across the EU is one of the main pillars of EU action on biodiversity and that much of Europe's biodiversity has already been lost;

2. Notes that healthy ecosystems provide important social and economic resources as well as recreation opportunities and support for farming and fisheries;

3. Welcomes the initiative of the Commission to propose a strategic approach to co-finance Natura 2000 and the statement made by Commissioner Dimas at the International Conference on "Biodiversity, Science and Governance" on 24 January 2005 in Paris;

4. Points out that structural fund funding for Natura 2000 is in accordance with the Cardiff Process of integrating environmental considerations in all key policy areas, and that it should in any case guarantee adequate funding within the Structural Fund objectives;

5. Welcomes the Commission statement that the EU rural development and structural funds should make a substantial contribution towards co-financing the Natura 2000 network; further welcomes the enabling of financing for Natura 2000 from rural development and structural funds; nevertheless, having examined the relevant proposals (structural, rural and LIFE+), considers them insufficient for the adequate co-funding of the Natura 2000 network and therefore also insists that a dedicated fund be set up for this purpose;

6. Believes that, as a significant part of Natura 2000 expenditure is to be included in the Rural Development Fund and/or the Structural Funds, the endowment of the funds needs to be increased accordingly;

7. Calls for the establishment after 2006 of a dedicated EU fund for biodiversity within the LIFE+ proposal, providing funding for Natura 2000 management activities that cannot be funded from either structural or rural development funds;

8. Believes that the Rural Development Funds can be used to compensate the extra farming costs in Natura 2000 sites, provided that this does not reduce the required funding for other measures within rural development, animal welfare, agri-environmental measures and other objectives included in the proposed Rural Development Funds regulation;

9. Recognises that, while the integration approach might be effective if it is implemented in a robust manner, past experience shows success has been limited; considers that the proposed rural development and structural fund regulations fail to reflect adequate Natura 2000 provisions, failing to deliver upon the Communication's ambition and putting the EU 2010 biodiversity target at risk, inter alia due to the following:

- biodiversity conservation has, until now, not been a major objective of rural development and structural funds, and may in a local and regional context even conflict with other socio-economic development objectives;

- co-financing of Natura 2000 sites would compete directly with other economic and social projects, such as the Trans-European Networks or structural adjustment in farming;

- the programming and management of rural development and structural funds is geared towards fostering regional socio-economic development, and the administrations responsible for managing them have, at the moment, still limited nature conservation competencies, lacking the expertise and skills required to manage projects with nature conservation objectives;

- no guarantees such as making the release of structural funding conditional upon adequate national Natura 2000 financing plans are foreseen although stipulated in the Communication on the Financial Perspectives;

- structural, rural or LIFE+ proposals in their present form do not guarantee minimum funding for Natura 2000 nor additional funding to those instruments reflecting this priority;

- no financial support is foreseen for marine and other Natura 2000 sites and species located in areas of various types of ownership;

10. Stresses that Natura 2000 sites and nature resources deliver key public benefits, often to economically isolated areas, including significant direct local spending, increasing tourism potential, significant health benefits, a growing employment sector at present estimated at 125000 jobs in the EU-15 and comparable advantages in the new Member States, educational resources and high value ecological life-support systems;

11. Considers that the distribution of the funds in question should be proportionate among all the Member States (old and new ones) and should reflect the size of the territories and the degree of biodiversity of the sites concerned;

12. Calls on the Commission to adjust its proposal for the Financial Instrument for the Environment, LIFE+, to include a dedicated biodiversity objective within that fund to provide funding for the management of Natura 2000 sites complementary to the rural development, structural and the fisheries funds, and complementary to funds made available by the Member States, including for special nature conservation investments, projects and emergencies; for nature conservation research, education and awareness-raising; and for cross-border cooperation with third countries on nature conservation projects;

13. Calls for changes to the proposal for a Council Regulation laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund to include specific reference to Natura 2000 in order to ensure the eligibility of Natura 2000 activities for financing from the structural funds;

14. Stresses that the Commission's calculation of the annual cost of the Natura 2000 network of EUR 6,1 billion is likely to be a significant under-estimate of the full cost of managing the network, and therefore should only be considered as the minimum necessary; further stresses that the calculation does not take into account the accession of the new Member States (Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia), and that the financial needs must be recalculated in order to cover the Natura 2000 network in the whole EU;

15. Invites the Commission to report to the European Parliament on the implementation of the integrated approach when the outcome of the structural, fisheries and rural development regulations is known, and in the event that no earmarked funds for Natura 2000 management are included, to make a proposal for a dedicated fund for this purpose, which should include a policy to provide information on and raise public awareness of nature-conservation issues, with the aim of highlighting the development-related, economic and social benefits resulting from the application of the proposed measures;

16. Welcomes the Commission's intention to incorporate nature-conservation policy in the broader framework of sustainable economic, social and regional development in the European Union; considers, however, that its final proposal does not demonstrate its firm resolve to provide sufficient funding for this policy and ensure its successful implementation;

17. Supports the Commission's intention to publish detailed guidance on how to use the structural funds to support the Natura 2000 network and calls on the Commission to make good its assurances that Natura 2000 financing will be listed as a priority in the forthcoming Community Strategic Guidelines for Cohesion Policy;

18. Calls for the recognition, by means of encouraging and spreading best-practice, of those territorial units which demonstrate their ability to manage their respective Natura 2000 areas cost-efficiently in both environmental and financial terms;

19. Stresses the importance of involving the national parliaments, the social partners, civil society and regional and local authorities in implementing these objectives, by promoting proper public consultation;

20. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

[1] OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.

[2] OJ C 341, 9.11.1998, p. 41.

[3] OJ C 262, 18.9.2001, p. 132.

[4] OJ L 242, 10.9.2002, p. 1.

[5] OJ C 47 E, 27.2.2003, p. 575.

[6] Presidency Conclusions of the Gothenburg European Council 15 and 16 June 2001.

[7] OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.

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