Europe has a wide variety of plants, animals, geology and
landscapes - some found nowhere else in the world. The 27 Member
States of the European Union (EU) cover
almost half the total area of Europe. While EU
citizens value their environment, due to our lifestyles,
economic and social pressures on nature are inevitable.
Our consumption patterns, the way we use our land and seas and
the growth of urban areas all take a heavy toll on air and water
quality, soils and the countryside as a whole. So too do increasing
movement of people and goods within the EU and beyond. As a result,
Europe’s natural environment is under threat.
Nature conservation is important for achieving Europe’s goal of
sustainable development. It is achieved through legislative
protection for key habitats and species and through
strategies and action plans that address the wider use of the
land and marine resources.
The EU and Member States have shared
competence - shared responsibility - in forming policy and
legislation for the environment. EU policy develops in a number of
- Pressure from Member States
- Public pressure
- Reaction to situations
- Evidence from research
Decisions on legislation are made jointly between the
Council and the European
Parliament based on proposals from the Commission. EU
enlargement to 27 Member States has added to the complexity of the
decision-making process with a wider range of national and regional
priorities to be taken into account.
It is estimated that around 80% of all UK environmental
legislation is derived from EU law with more than 200 legal acts
currently in force. Acts relate to a wide range of issues,
including farming, fisheries, soils, waste and climate change. As
an EU Member State, the UK provides evidence and expertise to
develop policies and deliver legislation. It also influences the
Commission to make new legislative proposals.
JNCC’s priorities in a European context
Our priorities focus on achieving long-term nature
and landscape conservation benefits in the UK, the EU and beyond.
In Europe, they involve:
- Contributing to biodiversity policy
- The EU Environmental Action Plan
- Pressures on biodiversity
- Mainstreaming biodiversity into other EU policies
- Economic, social and cultural values of biodiversity
The priority policies are linked to direct pressures on the
environment, as identified in the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. They include:
Other policies and legislation also have to be monitored as they
often present new hazards for biodiversity.