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:
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 (2000)
Guidance document on the Assessment of Plans and Projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites (November 2001)
Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6 (3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC
Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites
(670KB; [de] and [pt] are text only)
Guidance document on Article 6(4) (updated on 7.12.2012)
Clarification of the concepts of: alternative solutions, imperative reasons of overriding public interest, compensatory measures, overall coherence, Opinion of the Commission. (Version 2007 including revised form according to Habitat Committee 26.4.2012 for submission of information to the European Commission).
If you have any further questions to this point, please do not hesitate to contact the European Commission via e-mail: nature[AT]ec.europa.eu
document on Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC (~300KB as pdf format)
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.
|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