Finland and Portugal warned over nature laws

European Commission alleges non-compliance with EU rules on habitats, wild birds

Finland is facing a trip to the European Court of Justice after the European Commission yesterday said it was failing to implement the EU's 1979 wild birds directive. Meanwhile, Portugal is to receive a letter of formal notice, or first warning, for not providing a list of protected wildlife sites under the 1992 habitats directive.

The Commission alleges that Finland's hunting laws fail to protect nesting birds; a recent shortening of the bird-hunting season was not enough to cover the entire spring migration and breeding season, it said. In addition, derogations from a hunting ban for certain species was "not justified" because the hunting was "not restricted to small amounts."

Portugal is one of three member states that have failed to provide lists of wildlife sites for protection under the Natura 2000 network; the others are Ireland and Germany, both of which already face European Court rulings. The Commission says it has resisted taking action against Portugal but its patience has now run out.

Other member states have provided what the Commission calls "unsatisfactory" lists and several are already the subject to action over failure to respect the directive (ENDS Daily 11 January). The Commission has repeatedly stressed that countries that have not provided site lists would encounter difficulties in winning EU regional aid (ENDS Daily 16 March).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; see also press releases IP/00/329 and IP/00/331 dated 4 April on Rapid.

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