Member States criticised for little participation in Natura 2000 initiatives
The European Court of Auditors from the European Commission has recently expressed concerned that Member States are not investing enough in the numerous Natura 2000 sites throughout Europe. The European Commission has to now reevaluate the numbers to determine if the current funds are enough to make an impact on Natura 2000. The main concern by the Auditors is that the Member States evidently do not know how to correctly allocate the funds that they have set aside for the initiative of Natura 2000. The Auditors stated that there is little focus on keeping the funding organized and monitored, which directly affects the Natura 2000 sites because they are not being properly supported. The European Commission has claimed that it will improve the execution of the initiative through a detailed plan that will include legal instruments for Member States to follow. The Auditors recently visited 24 of the Natura 2000 sites, in countries including France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and Romania. Among the conclusions was that Member States were not up keeping their management plans nor had all of them even been ‘designated as special conservation areas’.
The Natura 2000 network covers 18% of the EU’s land with roughly 27,000 sites throughout Europe. It is a critical initiative for Europe as it protects endangered animals and habitats that require more attention than they have been given in the past in order to survive. It is compulsory for Member States to keep up with the sites that exist in their countries and ensure that they are being maintained appropriately. It is unfortunate that the Auditors had to conclude that the Natura 2000 initiative has not been implemented properly by Member States, but there will be extensive work done in the future to change this by 2020.