The Commission has funded a fact finding study to gather and review information on the perceived nature, extent and significance of the problems and burden associated with the Article 6.3 permitting procedure and to formulate recommendations for improving the efficiency of the procedure. The final report provides a first snap shot of how Article 6.3 operates in different parts of the EU. It also offers a wide range of good practice techniques and examples that have been used up to now to improve the efficiency of the procedure. The final report is accompanied by a more in-depth analysis of a number of case studies on the practical implementation of Article 6.3 under a range of different circumstances.
Article 6 is one of the most important articles in the Habitats Directive as it defines how Natura 2000 sites are managed and protected.
Paragraphs 6(1) and 6(2) require that, within Natura 2000, Member States:
Avoid damaging activities that could significantly disturb these species or deteriorate the habitats of the protected species or habitat types.
Paragraphs 6(3) and 6(4) lay down the procedure to be followed when planning new developments that might affect a Natura 2000 site. Thus:
ESTABLISHING CONSERVATION MEASURES FOR NATURA 2000 SITES
To assist in the understanding and correct application of this Article 6 procedure, the Commission has produced a number of general interpretative and methodological guidance documents on specific provisions of the Article:
Guidance document: Managing Natura 2000 sites
Assessment of Plans and Projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites
Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6 (3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC
Guidance document on Article 6(4)
Clarification of the concepts of: alternative solutions, imperative reasons of overriding public interest, compensatory measures, overall coherence, opinion of the Commission. (Updated version of 2007 replacing the section on Article 6(4) of the earlier booklet "Managing Natura 2000 sites" and including a revised form from 2012 for submission of information to the European Commission).
Court rulings related to Article 6
A compilation of the most important rulings of the European Court of Justice related to Article 6 of the Habitats Directive is available here.
Article 6(4) Commission Opinions
The second subparagraph of Article 6(4) provides for a special treatment whenever the plan or project concerns a site hosting priority habitats and/or species. The realisation of plans or projects likely to adversely affect these sites can be justified only if the evoked imperative reasons of overriding public interest concern human health and public safety or overriding beneficial consequences for the environment, or if, before granting approval to the plan or project, the Commission expresses an opinion on the initiative envisaged.
The Commission is also in the process of developing sector-specific guidance in the following policy areas: non-energy extractive industries, wind farm development, ports and estuaries, inland waterway transport, aquaculture. The overall objective of these guidance documents is to establish a better understanding of how to apply the Article 6 procedure to developments plans and projects in each of these sectors and to provide further advice on how to carry out an Appropriate Assessment in particular.
These guidance documents, which are developed in close cooperation with the stakeholders concerned, will be uploaded on the present webpage once they have been finalised.
Annexes A - D with A) Key habitat types of Community interest that are dependent on agricultural management, B) Key species of Community interest associated with farmland, C) Main habitats of Community interest dependent on agriculture in each Member State and D) Management recommendations for each Annex I habitat type dependent on agricultural management
Annex E with case studies
|Guidance on Aquaculture and Natura 2000 - Sustainable aquaculture activities in the context of the Natura 2000 Network|
|Inland waterway transport and Natura 2000 - sustainable inland waterway development and management in the context of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives
For the policy context, see the Commission Staff Working Document:
all documents downloadable from this page are in pdf format