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04.04.2012 / News - EU Level

Financing Natura 2000

The Directorate-General for the Environment prepared a document regarding possibilities to finance Natura 2000.

Natura 2000 is the cornerstone of EU nature and biodiversity policy. The aim of the network
is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and
habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member
States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
designated under the Birds Directive. As an EU wide network, Natura 2000 is based on the
principle of solidarity between Member States; while the main responsibility for financing
Natura 2000 lies with the Member States, Article 8 of the Habitats Directive explicitly links
the delivery of necessary conservation measures for Natura 2000 to EU co-financing.
The Commission has set out clearly its views on the importance of Union funding for
biodiversity and nature protection in the next multiannual financial framework in its
Communication on 'A budget for Europe 2020'1 (and the environment and climate policy
fiches2) in which it clarified that "the effective management and restoration of Natura 2000
protected areas is central to attainment of the EU 2020 biodiversity target of halting and
reversing the decline of biodiversity in the EU". And also that "at EU level, a strengthened
integrated approach using the various EU sectoral funds, ensuring their consistency with the
priorities of Natura 2000 action frameworks, together with an enhanced LIFE Biodiversity
strand, will provide a strong basis for the new Natura 2000 financing strategy”.
The integrated approach was chosen to ensure that the management of the sites is part of
wider land and water management policies, to allow Member States to set priorities and to
develop policies and measures which reflect their national and regional specificities, and to
avoid duplication and overlap of different EU funding instruments and the administrative
complication and transaction costs which would be associated with such duplication.
Following this approach Natura 2000 funding opportunities have been included in each of the relevant key EU funds for 2014-20 financing period, including sectoral proposals for cohesion policy, Common Agricultural Policy, European maritime and fisheries policy and the LIFE financial instrument for the environment and climate action.

In order to ensure a better use of the opportunities available for managing Natura 2000 sites
under EU funds, particular attention will need to be paid to more strategic multi-annual
planning approach to Natura 2000 financing. Article 8 of the Habitats Directive already
foresees the need to develop a ‘Prioritised Action Framework’ when designating sites as
SACs. Developed at national or regional level, these action frameworks can provide a useful
planning tool to strengthen the integration of Natura 2000’s financial requirements into other
relevant EU financial instruments.

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