The European Commission called on Cyprus again on Wednesday to take measures to protect its Natura 2000 sites and to respect its obligations under the Habitats Directive or it may refer the island to the European Court of Justice.
According to a statement from the commission Cyprus has failed miserably to set conservation objectives for its network of EU nature protection areas, failed to identify species to be targeted for protections and where it did set measures, they were not adequate.
Under the Habitats Directive, member states must propose EU sites of community importance (SCIs), which are then added to EU biogeographical lists.
Within six years of listing, member states must designate SCIs as special areas of conservation (SACs) and establish conservation objectives and measures to maintain or restore the species and habitats in order to reach favourable conservation status.
“These are key requirements to protect biodiversity across the EU,” the statement said.
The European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 both aim for the EU to halt its biodiversity loss by preserving natural sites and restoring damaged ecosystems to favourable conservation status.
The commission said it had sent a letter of formal notice to Cyprus in June 2021.
“However, to date, of the 37 areas concerned, conservation objectives have not yet been set for three special areas of conservation,” it said.
“Moreover, those set for the other 34 do not fulfil the requirements of the Habitats Directive, as they are either too vague or they do not properly identify the species targeted.”
In addition, conservation measures have not been set for 33 SACs and those established for four SACs are too general to ensure an adequate protection of the species and habitats.
Therefore, the commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion.
Cyprus has now two months to reply and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.