The European Commission is asking Bulgaria to upgrade its contribution to Natura 2000, Europe’s network of protected natural areas, the commission said on October 16 2014.
Under the Birds Directive, EU member states need to designate the most suitable sites as special protection areas (SPAs) for the conservation of bird species found on their territory.
Bulgaria originally designated a sufficient number of SPAs (114), but six of the designated areas were well below the size required under the Important Bird Areas (IBA) inventory used by the Commission and the EU Court of Justice as a reference to assess whether member states are complying with their obligation to designate SPAs.
The European Commission opened infringement proceedings in 2008, and although many of the SPAs now match the IBAs, problems remain at Kaliakra (for which there is already a case pending before the Court) and in the Rila area, where 17 species listed in the legislation currently lack adequate protection.
The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion. If Bulgaria fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.
(Photo: Anton Lefterov)