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Brussels, 16 February 2011

Environment: Commission takes Poland to Court over failure to comply with EU nature protection law

On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the European Commission is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for its failure to properly implement EU nature protection law. The Commission has concerns about several shortcomings in the transposition of EU law on the conservation of wild birds at national level.

Europe's birds are protected by the Birds Directive, a key piece of environmental legislation. The Commission has concerns about the transposition of the legislation in Poland

While most of the Directive has been transposed correctly, the Commission has concerns about how far Polish law provides for all bird species found in Europe. In addition, the scope for exemptions from the strict system of protection is wider than the Directive allows and contains a set of additional exceptions which clearly go beyond the intentions of European law.

The Commission identified these shortcomings in a Reasoned Opinion sent in January last year. In March 2010, Poland agreed to amend its domestic law, but the Commission is concerned that the respective amendments have not yet been adopted. It is therefore referring Poland to the European Court of Justice.

The Birds Directive

The 1979 Birds Directive (as codified in 2009) on the conservation of wild birds is a cornerstone of EU nature protection policy. It protects biodiversity by ensuring the favourable conservation status of bird species and their habitats on European territory.

For details about EU nature legislation, see:

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:

See also MEMO/11/86

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