Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Judges will learn in Sofia how to work on Natura 2000

Adelina Marini, May 28, 2009

How to implement the EU nature legislation will try to learn national judges in a seminar which will be held today and tomorrow in Sofia. The role of national judges in implementation the nature legislation of the EU is crucial, especially with regard to environment where thousands of decisions are being taken within the EU that might have direct impact. Such decisions may relate to applications for new landfill sites, questions concerning the protection of Natura 2000 sites or permits for industrial installations.

37 judges will arrive in Sofia to participate in the first seminar of 3 on EU nature legislation. There will be judges from Bulgaria and 9 other member states, among which France, Germany and Lithuania.

The EU Natura 2000 legislation is divided into 2 parts: the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Under the Birds Directive, Member States are obliged to designate all of the most suitable sites as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to conserve wild bird species. The Habitats Directive requires Member States to designate sites of Community Importance (SCIs) for the conservation of natural habitat types, and to protect various listed species.

It could be a coincidence but this seminar will take place in Sofia in a moment when the Parliament is trying to vote a law that would again allow the exchange of state lands and woods. This has been forbidden in January after big protests of environmentalists. Nevertheless, some holes in the law were used to make exchanges in the very last moment. Then the exchanged territories are used to build tourist complexes, golf playgrounds and other, harmful for nature, things.