EU’s legislative simplification agenda fails to live up to an era of increasing environmental complexity | WWF

EU’s legislative simplification agenda fails to live up to an era of increasing environmental complexity

Posted on 19 May 2015
EU’s legislative simplification agenda fails to live up to an era of increasing environmental complexity
© WWF
Today’s Better Regulation Package from the European Commission was criticised by WWF for perpetuating the current administration’s narrow preoccupation with legislative efficiency at the expense of longer term environmental as well as social priorities.

Under the new proposals, the European Parliament and Member States are forced to align themselves to the ten political priorities as set out by President Juncker, limiting their political power and threatening democratic debate [1]. 

WWF strongly criticises this decision, as well as the 10 priorities set by President Juncker that omit any mention of environmental sustainability. The Package also seeks to further prioritise the reduction of regulatory burdens, posing further threat to long-established EU environmental policies.

One of the first tests in this increasingly polarised debate is likely to take place around the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, the backbone of European nature conservation legislation, where protected areas now cover 18% of the land area of Europe [2].

Commenting on the proposals announced by Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office, said:

“The Commission is proposing to put in place more and more checks for impact assessment and cutting so-called red tape, especially for small and medium sized enterprises.  Taken alone there is nothing wrong with that, but what is missing from this efficiency led drive is a vision of where Europe is heading.  The ten Commission priorities announced last year underpinning this reform fail to live up to the enormous complexity of the environmental challenges now bearing down on the world and to put Europe on a path to clean technology-led, global competitiveness.

The current scrutiny of the Birds and Habitats Directives under the Regulatory Fitness agenda (REFIT) will be an important litmus test of whether the European Commission is embarking on a better regulation agenda or rather a de-regulation drive in disguise.  Just in the last week, over 100 environmental organisations have joined forces in Europe to stand their ground against any rolling-back of landmark nature protection laws in Europe.”

A public online action called Nature Alert in support of the Nature Directives launched last week by environmental NGOs including WWF has already received more than 100,000 signatures (www.wwf.eu/keepnaturealive).
 
[1] President Juncker announced the Commission’s ten political priorities, or so-called « guidelines », on 15 July 2014, in advance of his election by the European Parliament. These priorities have structured the work of the Commission, and formed the basis of the Commission’s annual work programme 2015.  Under the Better Regulation proposals, the Commission expects the Parliament and Member States to follow its political structure for the annual programming up until 2019. (the Political Guidelines can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/docs/pg_en.pdf)
[2] The Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, was given a specific mandate by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to assess “modernising” and “merging” this legislation last November, thereby possibly opening the doors for the wholescale revision of the two directives.


Further information:
Stefania Campogianni, 
Senior Media and Communications Officer, WWF European Policy Office: tel+32 499 539736 scampogianni@wwf.eu
Tycho Vandermaesen, Public Affairs Officer, Tel. +32 498 725641, tvandermaesen@wwf.eu  

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EU’s legislative simplification agenda fails to live up to an era of increasing environmental complexity
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