On 10 December 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Elena Lizzi of the Identity and Democracy Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The construction of the Capodistria to Divača railway line in Slovenia will skirt the border with Italy in the Rosandra Valley in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which is a karst area with unique natural, geological and hydrogeological characteristics.
The environmental heritage of the Rosandra Valley Regional Nature Reserve comprises plant and animal species that are protected at European level as part of the Natura 2000 European network. The Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the Italian Government, and Slovenian academics and experts in the field have criticised this project, including in official documents.
Failure to provide notification of an environmental impact assessment of the project for the areas in the European Natura 2000 network situated on the Italian side of the border means that the Espoo Convention, and the European Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC and Birds Directive 2009/147/EC have been disregarded.
Can the Commission therefore:
1. Check whether an environmental impact assessment of the project was conducted for the Natura 2000 areas in the Rosandra Valley, and what the outcome of this was;
2. State what steps it will take to safeguard the protected natural areas in the Rosandra Valley that form part of the European Natura 2000 network;
3. Indicate how much European funding is involved in the construction of the Capodistria to Divača railway line?”
On 25 January 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The environmental impact assessments pursuant to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive in relation to the project of the Capodistria to Divača railway line were carried out between 2012 and 2014, in accordance with the requirements of these Directives.
The environmental consent took into account the environmental impact assessment report, as well as the results of consultations, including the comments provided by the Italian competent authorities. The project was subsequently modified and subjected in 2017 to the screening procedures under the EIA and Habitats Directives. On the basis of these assessments, the authorities concluded that there will be no significant impacts on relevant Natura 2000 sites.
The national authorities, who are responsible for assessing whether a certain project could cause significant negative effects on a Natura 2000 site, have applied the relevant provisions of the Habitats Directive. The Commission assessed the documentation, as provided by the Slovenian authorities in the procedure for approving EU financial support and did not find any instance of non-compliance with EU legislation.
The project is being supported by the Connecting Europe Facility with a contribution of EUR 153 million and the Cohesion Fund with a contribution of EUR 80 million. Furthermore, the assessment is still in progress for a loan of around EUR 250 million from the European Investment Bank.”
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