The EU plays a crucial role in developing policy and legislation
to protect the environment and meet its objective for sustainable
development. The EU has specific targets for biodiversity
conservation with legislative protection for key habitats and
EU legislation relates to a wide range of issues, including
biodiversity, farming and forestry, fisheries, air pollution, waste
and climate change. As a Member State, the UK Government provides
evidence and expertise to develop policies and is responsible
(together with the other Member States’ Governments) for agreeing
and implementing EU legislation.
The EU and global biodiversity targets are partly delivered
through a range of legislative measures, which place obligations on
Member States to protect biodiversity and the natural environment.
The EU and Member States have shared legal competence - shared
responsibility – in forming and implementing legislation for the
In relation to wildlife and nature conservation, two key
Directives have been adopted by the European Union, namely:
- Directive 2009/147/EC on the Conservation of Wild Birds
- Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of
natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitats
These Directives provide for the protection of animal and plant
species of European importance and the habitats which support them,
particularly through the establishment of a network of protected
sites, called Natura
JNCC designed a searchable database on environmental case
law relating to the EU Habitats Directive and the EU Birds
Directive. The current version (Version 1.0) includes all relevant
cases from courts in the UK and the Court of Justice of the
European Union (CJEU) up until December 2013 using the Westlaw,
Lexis Library, Lawtel and Curia legal databases.
Further relevant legislation includes Directive 92/43/EEC
Directive), under which Member States are required to protect
and improve their inland and coastal waters, and Directive
Strategy Framework Directive) to achieve good environmental
status in their marine environment by 2020.
The EU’s environmental legislation is complemented by a variety
of other non-binding policy instruments such as strategies,
programmes and action plans to address the wider use of terrestrial
and marine resources. By these means, the EU also aims to
fulfill its international commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Last updated 10 March 2015