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Select Committee on European Communities Twenty-Second Report


5.  Although "final" in the sense that it brings to a close the Committee's work on this subject in the 1998-99 Session, this Report cannot pretend to be a complete survey of what is by any standard a complex process, involving not only the Community collectively but also the Member States individually, with progress varying from state to state. This is apparent from the wide range of evidence received during the inquiry, a full analysis of which is outside the scope of the Report.

6.  Promoting biodiversity has major implications for Community policies outside the specific field of nature conservation and protection. One of the principal aims of the Report, therefore, is to highlight the actions that require attention in the near future, if the EU and its Member States are to remain on course for meeting their obligations under the 1992 Convention effectively.


7.  Measures which need to be taken urgently by the UK have already been the subject of recommendations in our Interim Report. We share the hope of virtually all our witnesses that these measures will have found a place in the Government's legislative programme by the time this Report is published.[12] The further recommendations which we now make are complementary to, but not directly dependent on, amendments to UK wildlife and countryside legislation.

8.  During the latter stages of the inquiry, the significance of the agri-environment[13] and other measures under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Agenda 2000 proposals for reform became increasingly apparent (see paragraphs 15­24). To have gone into these in detail (and with the probable need to take more evidence) would not have been practicable within the time and expertise available to the Committee. They have in any case already been the subject of previous Reports[14]. The Report therefore may be seen to prepare the ground for continuing investigation, possibly in the context of environmental integration in the light of the forthcoming Helsinki European Council.


9.  The Report is the outcome of continued work by Sub­Committee C (Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection) on an inquiry launched in March 1999. Members of the Sub­Committee who were involved in the inquiry are listed in Appendix 1. Most of the evidence received was published with the Interim Report; additional evidence and assistance was provided by the organisations and individuals listed in Appendix 2. A note of certain matters requiring correction or clarification in the Interim Report is in Appendix 3.

10.  The Committee wishes again to record its indebtedness to its specialist adviser (Mr Stuart Housden) and to the many witnesses and others who have helped with the inquiry. These include all of those who hosted informal visits by members of the Sub­Committee to Denmark, the Republic of Ireland and the European Commission (DG Environment), as well as the formal visit to Paris to take evidence from the European Topic Centre on Nature Conservation. Details of those visits, and notes on the information obtained, are in Appendices 5-7. A glossary of acronyms and technical terms is in Appendix 9.

12   The Queen's Speech of 17 November 1999 announced the proposed introduction of a Bill "to give people greater access to the countryside and to improve protection for wildlife". Back

13   Council Regulation (EEC) No 2078/92. Back

14   For example, ECC 18th Report, 1997­98. CAP Reform in Agenda 2000-The Transition to Competition: Measures for Rural Development and the Rural Environment, HL 84; and 8th Report, 1998­99, A Reformed CAP? The Outcome of Agenda 2000, HL 61. Back

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