Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The Commission has sent 4 warnings to Bulgaria related to Natura 2000

Adelina Marini, October 8, 2009

Bulgaria has received 4 written warnings from the European Commission today, 3 of which are related to the protected zones, included in Nature 2000, and the fourth is related to the overall nature protection legislation. The warnings are for the mountain of Pirin for the large ski centre in Bansko, for the Black Sea resort Tsarevo where construction works continue, although the protected area there is in danger and, again, for construction work in another Black Sea protected area on cape Emine - Irakli.

The EU commissioner on environment Stavros Dimas explained the decision of the Commission in a very indicative way: "Despite covering only 2.5% of the EU's total area, Bulgaria is home to almost 70% of Europe's protected bird species, and some 40% of its protected habitats. This extraordinary biodiversity must be protected, because legal protection is the only sure way to safeguard future economic and social well-being. I expect Bulgaria to bring its legislation into line with European requirements, and above all to ensure that it is properly implemented in practice, on the ground."

With regard to the ski centre in Bansko, the Commission had been notified by several complaints. Some of the complaints were about construction work, permitted by the national authorities even before any environment estimations were presented. Almost the same is the case with Tsarevo and Irakli.

The fourth warning is related to the lack full harmonization of the Bulgarian legislation with the directives for birds and habitats. According to those 2 directives member states are obliged to estimate the influence all plans and projects might have on the protected areas, notwithstanding their location.

Bulgaria has 2 months to respond. Otherwise the Commission will be forced to sue Bulgaria in the Court of the European Communities. Besides, the Commission is in power to fine Bulgaria for no compliance with EU law.