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2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 377/333

Thursday 16 March 2000

5. Environmental legislation


European Parliament resolution on Structural Fund programmes in the Member States and
national implementation of EU environmental laws

The European Parliament,

 having regard to Article 2 of the EC Treaty which states that the Community should promote a har-
monious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities including a high level of pro-
tection and improvement of the quality of the environment,

 having regard to Article 6 of the EC Treaty which states ‘Environmental protection requirements must
be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Community policies and activities, in
particular with a view to promoting sustainable development’,

 having regard to the Commission Communication on ‘Guidelines for Programmes in the period 2000-
2006’ (1) which states that ‘environmental considerations, and in particular compliance with Commun-
ity environmental and nature protection legislation, must be incorporated into the definition and
implementation of measures supported by the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund’,

A. whereas Articles 1 and 12 of the General Structural Funds Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 restate the
Treaty requirement and Article 2(5) of the Regulation calls for ‘the incorporation of the requirements
of environmental protection into the definition and implementation of the operations of the Funds’,

B. whereas the implementation and the enforcement of EU environmental laws in the Member States
covers all projects, whether or not they require Community or national funding,

C. whereas Article 41 of the General Structural Funds Regulation further calls for ‘an ex-ante’ evaluation
of the environmental situation in the affected regions including the arrangements for ensuring com-
pliance with the Community rules on the environment,

D. whereas former Commissioners Monika Wulf-Mathies and Ritt Bjerregaard wrote on 23 June 1999 to
Member State governments reminding them of their duties and warning them of possible delays in
approval of programmes and projects if, in particular, notifications of protected sites under Habitats
Directive 92/43/EEC and Wild Birds Directive 79/409/EEC had not been received,

E. whereas any undue delay in the approval of plans and operational programmes will have a negative
impact on the implementation of regional structural policies and the relevant budgetary programming,

F. whereas there are several court proceedings pending against Member states regarding unsatisfactory
notification and delays in designating the list of protected sites of Community importance
(Natura 2000), including areas related to both Habitats and Wild Birds Directives,

G. whereas several Member States have not yet even submitted proposals, which were due by June 1995,
and whereas several Member States in their selection of sites have taken a restrictive and narrowly
defined approach to ensure ‘favourable conservation status’ of the most threatened habitats and species
as required by Article 4 of the Habitats Directive,

(1) OJ C 267, 22.9.1999, p. 2.
C 377/334 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 29.12.2000

Thursday 16 March 2000

H. whereas the requirement on Member States to comply with EU environmental legislation includes
a number of Community directives which are directly relevant to proposed sites for Structural Funds
projects, such as Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private
projects on the environment, as amended by Directive 97/11/EC which came into force on 14 March
1999 and Directive 91/676/EEC on Protection of Waters Against Pollution Caused by Nitrates from
Agricultural Sources,

1. Emphasises the potential threat to sensitive sites of the European natural heritage from the direct and
indirect environmental impacts of Structural Fund supported projects, which could destroy for ever the
delicate balance of natural habitats;
2. Recalls that, pursuant to Article 226 of the EC Treaty, the Commission may bring proceedings before
the European Court of Justice against any Member State which does not transpose Community directives
into national legislation by the appropriate deadline;
3. Calls on the Commission to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of EU environment
laws in respect of all projects in the Member States, whether or not they require Community or national
4. Calls on the Commission to use its legal authority under the Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund
regulations to assess each plan or programme in the framework of the requirements of the Habitats and
Wild Birds Directives and Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and other relevant directives to
ensure that EU-funded programmes do not damage or destroy actual or potential protected sites; calls on
the Commission to clarify its monitoring role once a plan or programme is approved;
5. Calls on the Commission to require from Member States a firm commitment that their regional
development plans and operational programmes will take full account of the need to protect from any
possible negative impact those sites already protected under Natura 2000;
6. Calls on the Commission to put in place binding mechanisms which ensure that plans and opera-
tional programmes are not changed after Commission approval or first fund allocation, unless the pro-
posed changes are preceded by a full and open reevaluation, the results of which determine if funding is
still to be granted;
7. Calls on Member States which have so far not done so to submit as soon as possible full lists of
proposed sites for the Natura 2000 network to facilitate the Commission’s assessment of conformity of
their respective plans and programmes with Articles 2 and 12 of the General Structural Funds Regulation;
calls on the Commission to publish the revised lists of Natura 2000 sites submitted by the Member States
or alternatively to state publicly why it has been unable to do so;
8. Calls on the Commission to inform Parliament where it believes that there are deficiencies in the
proposals submitted by Member States for Natura 2000 sites;
9. Calls on the Commission to take the action required to improve the implementation and the enfor-
cement of EU environmental laws in projects in the Member States which require national or private
10. Calls for a review of the Habitats Directive as regards its application in the Member States so that
those affected by the directive may be more certain what the law is;
11. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council and the govern-
ments of the Member States.