On 8 December 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jordi Solé of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In its answers to parliamentary questions E-9181/2010 and E-364/11, the Commission acknowledges that the Natura Network has not been sufficiently enlarged in Galicia. Galicia’s contribution to the Natura Network continues to be one of the lowest in Spain and the EU, representing just 11.74% of protected areas. Despite adopting Decree 37/2014 declaring Galician sites of community interest to be special areas of conservation and approving the Natura 2000 Network master plan, the Galician Government has not enlarged the protected area and has therefore failed to act in accordance with the mandate of the Galician Parliament which it received in June 2017, calling for its enlargement.
The Commission must be aware of how serious the current situation is, given that there are already numerous applications for authorisation for wind and mining projects in many areas that were later included in the proposals to enlarge the Natura 2000 Network.
The authorisation of wind and mining projects serves interests that are incompatible with the preservation of protected areas. Given this threat, will the Commission open an investigation into the Galician Government’s failure to meet its repeated calls for the protected area to be enlarged?”
On 16 February 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission has already opened an investigation (EU Pilot) concerning Spain’s possible failure to propose sufficient sites for the conservation of certain habitat types and species of Community interest and will continue to monitor the situation, in light of the latest changes proposed by Spain.
In the meantime, the Habitats Directive requires an appropriate assessment of the implications of a project or plan on a site included in the Natura 2000 network or proposed by Member States for inclusion.
The Commission’s guidance on the implementation of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive states that, where the national list of sites remains incomplete, Member States should also safeguard the ecological interest of sites that, according to scientific evidence based on the criteria in Annex III to the Habitats Directive, should be on the national list.
The Commission therefore expects the competent authorities to take all adequate measures to safeguard the ecological interest of those sites even before they are proposed by Spain for inclusion in the list of Sites of Community Importance.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/miño-galicia-mirror-water-nature-4323183/