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Joint Links REFIT

The Joint Links REFIT Task and Finish Group, was set up in June 2014 to address the EU review of the Habitats and Birds Directives. The REFIT initiative is the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme. This focuses on reducing ‘regulatory burden’, so as to meet EU policy and regulatory goals at least cost. The inclusion of the Birds and Habitats Directives within this process is the latest manifestation of the ongoing threats to the Directives which are widely viewed as one of the most important pieces of legislation protecting nature.

Chair: Kate Jennings, RSPB

The REFIT group is a Joint Links Task and Finish Group working together with our Sister Links, Northern Ireland Environment Link, Scottish Environment Link, Wales Environment Link, and members to ensure that the review is informed by the best evidence and has the best result for nature, people and business.

On 12 May 2015, 100 NGOs from across the four country Links jointly issued a position statement and press release on the review of the Habitats and Birds Directives.

Update from the Group:

Following the EU referendum result, the future of the Birds and Habitat Directives in the UK is uncertain. Link and its members will continue to work collectively to ensure that the UK’s environmental law and its enforcement is at the forefront of any Brexit discussions. Currently, the Group is gathering further information on the potential impacts of Brexit, to establish key priorities across the Link membership and for the Habitats and Birds Directives Group. At the present time the Directives still apply.

The European Commission consultant’s report on the fitness check of the Directives was made public on 5 July, stating that ‘The Directives are fit for purpose’. This supports the Joint Links position statement on the Commission’s review Directives, which was signed by 100 NGOs last year. The UK public also expressed a huge level of support for the Directives, as set out in the response to the European Commission consultation (‘Nature Check’), and within Link’s proposals for better implementation of the Directives.

Please contact Spencer Clubb, Link’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, for further information.

Further evidence submission to the European Commission

Throughout May and June 2015, the European Commission held ‘mission’ meetings with 10 member states to discuss the member states’ evidence submissions. On 1 June, ten delegates from the Joint Links REFIT group attended the UK NGO mission meeting with the Commission and the consultants carrying out the REFIT review. The group subsequently agreed to submit additional evidence to the review process, highlighting key elements of Link’s previous response and addressing additional issues raised in the mission meeting.

The further evidence was supported by 100 NGOs from across the Joint Links network and is set out in the following six papers below:

Submission of evidence to the European Commission’s fitness check of the Habitats and Birds Directives

The Task and Finish Group submitted their full evidence to the fitness check of the Habitats and Birds Directives on 30 April 2015. They are delighted that this response was supported by 100 UK NGOs from across the Joint Links. The full evidence is set out below:

Public consultation

The European Commission’s public consultation closed on 26 July 2015. A total of 520,325 citizens across Europe responded to the consultation via the Nature Alert webtool. On 24 July 2015 the Joint Links published a press release in the run up to the closure of the consultation.

Last updated: 2 September 2016