EU Biodiversity Policy


The EU’s environmental legislation is complemented by a variety of other non-binding policy instruments such as strategies, programmes and action plans to address the wider use of terrestrial and marine resources. 


The EU Biodiversity Strategy


In May 2011, the European Commission adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, in line with the commitments made at the 10th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Nagoya, Japan in 2010.


The strategy includes a new vision: "By 2050, European Union biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides – its natural capital – are protected, valued and appropriately restored for biodiversity's intrinsic value and for their essential contribution to human wellbeing and economic prosperity, and so that catastrophic changes caused by the loss of biodiversity are avoided".


The strategy contains six targets and 20 actions. The six targets cover:


  • Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity
  • Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure
  • More sustainable agriculture and forestry
  • Better management of fish stocks
  • Tighter controls on invasive alien species
  • A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss


At its meeting in June 2011, the Environment Council, in its Conclusions endorsed the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. The new strategy has been adopted in recognition of the EU’s failure to meet the 2010 biodiversity target, set  by the European Council in Gothenburg in 2001 where Member States committed “to halt the decline of biodiversity in the EU by 2010”.  


The Directorate-General for the Environment webpages provide an overview of EU biodiversity policy as well as all relevant links to documents and EU websites.


EU biodiversity policy in the international context


The EU biodiversity strategy is not only about conserving biodiversity within its own territory. It is also the means through which the EU aims to meet its obligations as a signatory to the international agreement on a global biodiversity target.  At the CBD 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 countries agreed on a new set of biodiversity targets; the Aichi targets and Strategic Plan 2011- 2050.


The vision for the new global Strategic Plan calls for "Living in Harmony with Nature" where "By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people."


The EU Environmental Action Programme


A framework for policy-making is set out in the Environmental Action Programme (EAP). The current seventh EAP covers the period 2012-2020 and has nine priority objectives. The three key areas are: to protect and enhance nature and biodiversity; boost resource efficient, sustainable growth and to improve environmental links with health. These goals will be achieved by better implementation of existing legislation, enhancing knowledge, larger investments and full integration of environmental issues into policy. The programme also proposes to make EU cities more sustainable and to work across boundaries on a global scale. This programme is the top environmental priority and will be regularly monitored until it is revaluated in 2020.


Last updated 20 February 2014