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As part of its Smart Regulation policy the Commission has initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). This is a continuous process, affecting the whole policy cycle – from the design of a piece of legislation to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and, where justified, revision.
Under the first stages of this programme, the Commission has reviewed the entire stock of EU legislation and decided on follow-up actions, one of which is a ‘Fitness Check’ involving a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is ‘fit for purpose’. In this context, Fitness Checks provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.
In the environment policy field, the Commission has already completed Fitness Checks of EU freshwater and waste related legislation, and has now begun a Fitness Check of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
As a first step, the Commission developed a mandate for the Fitness Check on the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Published in February 2014, this defines the overall scope and aim of the exercise, and sets out a number of key questions that are to be addressed in relation to the Fitness Check criteria:
In this context the Fitness Check will examine, among other things:
Here is a link to the mandate for the Fitness Check.
A key input to the Fitness Check will be the Commission’s State of Nature in the EU report, which is based on Member States’ conservation status assessments of the species and habitat types protected by the two nature directives. The mid-term view of the Biodiversity Strategy, foreseen for later in 2015, will also provide further evidence-based information.
The Fitness Check will draw upon evidence, data and information gathered through a structured process over the period January-July 2015.
With the support of a study contract, the Commission has sought to gather data and information for the evaluation in two key phases:
Phase 1 (January-June 2015) involved an extensive and targeted evidence-gathering exercise.
As part of this process, questionnaires were sent to 47 EU level organisations and representative bodies, and 112 stakeholder organisations at Member State level - one from each of the following categories:
Effort has been made to ensure that evidence is gathered from a geographically balanced and representative sample of all relevant sectors and interest groups.
The responses received can be seen here, together with a number of completed questionnaires that were sent by other organisations on their own initiative.
Between April and the end of June 2015, meetings were also held in ten Member States in order to gather and examine evidence in more detail, in particular evidence related to costs and excessive or unnecessary administrative burden linked to the Directives and the reasons behind them, as well as implementation challenges and successes. The ten Member States are the Netherlands (16-17 April), Germany (20-21 April), Poland (23-24 April), Spain (5-6 May), Malta (12-13 May), France (19-20 May), and the United Kingdom (1-2 June) Sweden (8-9 June), Slovakia (23-24 June), and Estonia (29-30 June).
Phase 2 (30 April - 26 July): a public Internet consultation, which was open to all and available in 23 official languages of the EU, was launched in order to gather opinions on current EU nature conservation legislation. Initial, statistical results are available as well the complete report . The executive summary of the report is also published in French and German.
You can access all the responses to the public consultation through the EU Survey website.
Contributions received outside the public consultation are published here.
A list of Commission studies and published and peer-reviewed key documents relevant for the evaluation of EU Nature Directives has also been drawn up. The relevance to different questions in the mandate of the fitness check is indicated under each of the categories (S = Effectiveness; Y = Efficiency; R = Relevance; C = Coherence; AV = EU added value).