Wild Birds Directive: Case C-441/03 Commission v The Netherlands

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave judgement on the 14 April in the case of Commission v Netherlands.

The case concerned the failure by the Netherlands to fulfill its obligations under the Wild Birds Directive (Directive 79/409/EEC) and the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC). Following a reasoned opinion issued to the Netherlands on 26 July 2001 proceedings were brought before the ECJ, who declared that, by failing to bring into force within the prescribed periods all the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the requirements of Article 4(1) and (2) of the wild birds directive and Article 6(1) of the habitats directive, the Netherlands had failed to fulfil its obligations under those Directives. In particular, by maintaining in force Article 13(4) of the Dutch Nature Conservancy Law (Natuurbeschermingswet), which was found to be incompatible with Article 6(4) of Directive 92/43, the Netherlands had failed to fulfil its obligations under those directives. Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive places an obligation on the Member States to take compensatory measures, where despite a negative assessment of the implications of the site, a plan or project must nevertheless be carried out. In looking at what constituted an "appropriate assessment" under Article 6(3), the Court held that it was only where the assessment required under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive is negative and where no alternative solutions exist that the assessment set out in Article 6(4) must be undertaken.

The judgement in Case C-441/03 can be found in English at the following link: wild birds case


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