Bulgaria Violates European Nature Protection Law

In several cases Bulgaria has failed to appropriately protect its natural heritage and has violated the regulations under the nature protection law of the European Union. These are the accusations which were addressed to the Bulgarian government by the European Commission at the beginning of October.

Construction site on the Black Sea Coast. Most of the natural sites have already been covered with concrete.

© Gunther Willinger

In one of the four reprimanding letters the Bulgarian government is blamed for the fact that it has not completely aligned its laws on nature conservation with the European regulations. This means that the Bulgarian nature protection laws still do not fully comply with the requirements of the Habitat Directive and the most important legal rule of the EU for the protection of flora and fauna is not sufficiently embedded in their national law.

According to the Habitat Directive all member states must sufficiently examine all plans and projects, which may have a significant impact on protected areas, independent of the location of the project. This is not happening in Bulgaria, which is documented in three more accusatory letters referring to direct interferences in protected areas. For example an extensive ski centre will be built in the protected area of the Pirin mountains. The development project was already partly approved by the Bulgarian authorities before the impact on the respective species and habitats was adequately examined. Along the river Vaya near the Black Sea essential habitats in the middle of the reserve Emine-Irakli are under threat of destruction by building activities. The situation is very similar in the community of Tsarevo in the South East of the country: parts of the nature preserve Strandzha are at risk of being sacrificed to tourism. No impact assessments prior to the building activities were executed either in this case.

“Although only 2.5 percent of the EU area is allotted to Bulgaria it is the home of almost 70 percent of protected birds in Europe, and about 40 percent of the protected habitats are located in this country. The extraordinary diversity of species must be legally protected – only this way can the wellbeing of the economy and society be secured for the future. I expect from Bulgaria that it will reconcile its laws with the European regulations and above all make sure that they are duly applied to in practice and locally,” says the EU Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas. EuroNatur will continue to support their Bulgarian partners in bringing  breaches against the European Nature Protection Laws to the public eye and protesting against them effectively.

Link to the European Commission

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