The European Commission is taking legal action against Greece and Hungary for failing to implement biodiversity legislation. Greece has already been taken to court over the matter, but is still failing to designate sufficient protected areas for migratory and vulnerable wild birds and is therefore violating the EU's Directive on the conservation of wild birds.
In a separate case, Hungary is receiving a first warning about its failure to protect the Sajólád Wood in the east of the country, and for wider problems with the implementation of Natura 2000 in its national legislation.
The Commission is sending a first written warning under Article 228 to Greece about its failure to designate a sufficient number of protected areas for wild birds.
Written warning for Greece over bird protection
The European Court of Justice condemned Greece on 25 October last year for failing to designate enough Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for wild birds. The court listed numerous failings – cases of inadequate designation - and identified twelve species as being in particular need of stronger protection, including the Bearded Vulture (Gypætus barbatus), an endangered species, and the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), a species described as threatened. It also criticised the coverage of internationally important wetlands. In the wake of the court ruling, Greece has subsequently added a further 12 SPAs, bringing its national total to 163, and designated sufficient areas for one of the species specifically mentioned by the Court ruling. However, the coverage is still far short of the court's requirements. Some 32 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are still not covered by SPAs at all, and the coverage of a further 75 IBAs is insufficient and boundaries will need to be redrawn, including for the 11 remaining species.
The Commission is therefore sending Greece a first written warning about the possible consequences of failing to comply with the ruling, which could ultimately involve a financial penalty.