17th Apr 2021

EU transport 'mega-projects' threaten nature sites

EU transport "mega-projects" are threatening over a thousand protected nature sites in Europe, according to a coalition of European environmental groups.

Some of the most rare birds in Europe, including the Red-breasted Goose and the Dalmatian Pelican, as well as a range of biodiverse habitats could be put at risk by 21 planned "priority projects" that are part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) package.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The TEN-T is the EU's transport infrastructure framework. Originally adopted in 1990, TEN-T is engaged aims to connect up tens of thousands or roads, railways and waterways across Europe by 2020.

In one example, a project that aims to remove some 1,600 km of bottlenecks on the Rhine-Main-Danube corridor to improve its navigability could negatively affect some 83 different natural sites in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, and another 48 important bird areas in Bulgaria and Romania.

The threats are highlighted in a new report from Birdlife International, who, together with Transport & Environment (T&E), the European Environment Bureau and the CEE Bankwatch Network, presented their findings in the European Parliament on Tuesday (13 May)

Jos Dings, director of Transport and Environment, a transport campaign group said: "The story of Europe's priority transport infrastructure projects is a classic example of old-fashioned political horse-trading. The projects were chosen behind closed doors and pushed through without consideration of the economic and environmental risks."

"It's now time for a root and branch review of how these megaprojects get picked," he added.

Clairie Papazoglou, regional director of BirdLife Interantional's European division, said that the threat went further than just a few projects.

"This new analysis highlights the magnitude of the threat to Natura 2000 [Europe's network of protected nature sites] from transport development. The 21 Priority Projects analysed are just the tip of the iceberg, implementation of TEN-T network as a whole could have much more severe impacts.

"The vast majority of these impacts can be avoided if Natura 2000 areas are taken into account in the early stages of planning. This is required by EU environmental law," said Ms Papazoglou.

"As a minimum, EU funding needs to be denied to all projects which do not fully comply with EU legislation," she continued.

In the main, the groups see the problem being resolved through the enforcement of existing EU nature laws.

But additionally, the groups are demanding that biodiversity considerations be taken into account at the earliest stage of work, and call for the establishment of "a strong mechanism" to resolve conflicts between TEN-T and Natura 2000 and a system that can scrutinise spending on transport projects to ensure that EU funding is not provided for projects that damage nature sites.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.


Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us