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Training package on EU Nature Protection Legislation – Focus on Site Protection

Module 1: The legal framework of EU Nature Protection

Evaluation of the existing EU Nature Protection Legislation: The REFIT Fitness Check

The REFIT Fitness Check (in the framework of the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme) provides a comprehensive policy evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, which constitute the common EU Legislative framework for nature conservation across the Member States. This evaluation assesses if the Directives are fit for purpose by examining their performance against five criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added value. This includes examining implementation and integration successes and problems, the costs of implementation and non-implementation of the legislation, the administrative burden of implementation, and the opportunities to reduce it without compromising the integrity of the purpose of the Directives.

The scope of the Fitness Check, as set out in its mandate (roadmap) (More information:, covers both the Birds and Habitats Directives, which aim to protect the EU’s most vulnerable species and habitat types across their entire natural range within the EU. The Fitness Check also has regard to relevant commitments under the EU Biodiversity Strategy (More information: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. (COM/2011/0244 final).) and international Biodiversity Conventions. In addition, the Fitness Check takes into account other relevant EU environmental Directives, as well as Communications, staff working papers and guidance documents that have been issued by the Commission and its Services in support of implementation of the Nature Directives.


Developed by the Academy of European Law (ERA)