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Nature protection: Commission takes legal action against Romania

for infringement of biodiversity legislation

The European Commission is taking legal action against Romania for infringing biodiversity legislation. Romania has failed to designate any Special Protected Areas for migratory and vulnerable wild birds, violating the EU’s directive on the conservation of wild birds.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Member States must urgently complete their networks of Special Protection Areas for migratory and vulnerable bird species, and Sites of Community Interest to conserve wild flora and fauna. This obligation is crucial if we are to meet the EU target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010." Special protection areas

Under the Birds Directive, Member States are obliged to designate suitable sites as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to conserve wild bird species, and to provide wintering areas and staging posts along the migration routes. These designations are made using objective, verifiable scientific criteria, and the Commission uses the best available ornithological information to assess whether Member States have complied with their obligation to classify Special Protection Areas. The first written warning to Romania is a consequence of the country’s failure to designate areas both for conservation of wild birds and for breeding and wintering on migration routes.
Legal basis

Under its Accession Treaty, which entered into force on 1 January 2007, Romania was obliged to put into effect the measures necessary to comply with the provisions of directives and decisions within the meaning of the EC Treaty from the date of accession. No transition period was granted to Romania regarding the designation of Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive.
Legal Process

Article 226 of the Treaty gives the Commission powers to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations. If the Commission considers that there may be an infringement of EU law that warrants the opening of an infringement procedure, it addresses a "Letter of Formal Notice" (first written warning) to the Member State concerned, requesting it to submit its observations by a specified date, usually two months. In the light of the reply or absence of a reply from the Member State concerned, the Commission may decide to address a "Reasoned Opinion" (final written warning) to the Member State.

This clearly and definitively sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of EU law, and calls upon the Member State to comply within a specified period, usually two months. If the Member State fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice. Where the Court of Justice finds that the Treaty has been infringed, the offending Member State is required to take the measures necessary to conform.

Article 228 of the Treaty gives the Commission power to act against a Member State that does not comply with a previous judgement of the European Court of Justice. The article also allows the Commission to ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the Member State concerned.
For rulings by the European Court of Justice see:
//curia.eu.int/en/content/juris/index.htm

Bucuresti, 18.10.2007

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