National policies

© Filip Hrebenda, REDISCOVER Nature/EEA

  • Member States establish Natura 2000 sites in line with the EU Birds and Habitats Directive requirements
  • Member States are required to report on the conservation status of habitats and species, the state of ecosystems and their services
  • Each Member State is to develop a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan as part of their commitment to the global Convention on Biological Diversity

How is EU environmental legislation transposed to Member State level?

The EU Birds and Habitats Directives require Member States to establish sites as part of the Natura 2000 network to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s species and habitats. To this aim, Member States have designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for migratory and particularly threatened bird species (according to Birds Directive Article 4) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to ensure the favourable conservation status of each habitat type and species (according to Habitats Directive Article 3 and 4). As the terrestrial component of the Natura 2000 network is largely complete, current efforts target the adoption of appropriate conservation measures and management plans for protected sites (see more information Protected area report). The marine component of the network is, however, largely incomplete in many countries. Those areas which are protected are largely inshore waters, while offshore waters often still have poor protection levels. More information on the state of the Natura 2000 network and its coverage is available from the Natura 2000 Barometer and the Natura 2000 Network Viewer. In addition to the areas covered by the Natura 2000 network, Member States inherit over 105 000 nationally designated areas that are not part of the Natura 2000 network.

How do Member States report on the status of biodiversity?

Under the Birds and Habitats Directives, Article 12 (Birds Directive) and Article 17 (Habitats Directive) require Member States to report every six years on the conservation status of habitats and species and related trends (an overview of reporting can be found here for Habitats Directive Reporting and here for Birds Directive Reporting). The main objective is to maintain and restore habitats and species to a favourable conservation status. Reported data is also used to recognize relevant pressures and threats, to identify conservation measures and to assess data quality.  Information is gathered for each biogeographical and marine region as well as on the number of protected sites and their surface area, the proportion of sites with management plans and the measures undertaken on the protected sites. The latest reporting period covers progress made between 2013 and 2018. Aggregated results of this EU assessment are available online and published in the ‘State of Nature in the EU 2020’ report (see more information on current reporting, State of nature report 2020).


Progress on national MAES reporting can be found selecting Policy/MAES in each of the Country factsheet

Member State reporting is also used to assess progress towards the EU Biodiversity Strategy’s headline target to halt the loss of biodiversity and its first target. In line with Target 2 and Action 5 of the Strategy, Member States are to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services (‘MAES’) within their national territory. This process also requires Member States to assess the economic value of such services, and promote the integration of these values into accounting.

How do Member States comply with global biodiversity targets?

In addition to EU legislative obligations, countries which are Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agree to translate the overarching international framework into revised and updated National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) (see statistics and documents per country here). Moreover, MS are requested to submit National Reports for reviewing progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets. The main focus of the reporting lies on how the NBSAPs have been updated and implemented as well as how the measures contribute to the achievement of the targets (results from the sixth reporting period can be found here).

More country-specific information regarding national policies, the state of native species and habitats as well as facts on nationally designated protected areas and Natura 2000 sites can be accessed via the search engine.