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Brussels, 21 June 2011

Statement by Commissioner Potočnik following the Environment Council

I am largely pleased by the outcome of today's discussions concerning the Commission's Communication on a Biodiversity Strategy. I very much appreciate the efforts made by the Hungarian Presidency to secure support for the Commission's proposals.

While the Commission would have preferred a greater level of ambition from Member States, particularly in the short term, I am satisfied that today's conclusions send an appropriate message regarding the level of seriousness with which the EU treats the issue of biodiversity loss. We must all continue to live up to the commitments made last year in Nagoya.

Protecting our biodiversity is a priority that cannot wait. We must build on our success in Nagoya in getting international backing for effective protection and restoration of our vanishing species.

I am pleased that Ministers today endorsed the Commission Strategy and considered it, together with its targets, as a key instrument to enable the EU to reach its overall 2020 headline target.

The importance of integrating biodiversity into sectoral policies, the ongoing reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, and the discussions on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework has been recognised by Ministers.

We must all remember that biodiversity is not just a hobby for nature lovers. Continued loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services will jeopardise our long term economic development. The costs of failing to protect it far outweigh the costs of protecting it. Biodiversity provides us with important services, from pollination to water management; we should not only become aware of this when it is gone.

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