Commission v Austria. Birds and Habitats Directive

Meanwhile, in another European case concerning both the Birds Directive (Directive 79/409/EEC) and the Habitats Directive (Directive 94/43/EC), the Advocate General has delivered her opinion.

The case by the European Commission, initiated in May 2004, alleged that Austria had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 4(1) and (2) of the Birds Directive and Article 6(4) and 7 of the Habitats Directive.

With regard to the Birds Directive, the Commission argued that Austria had failed to include the sites of “Soren” and “Gleggen-Köblern” in the “Lauteracher Ried” special area of conservation (an area of importance due to its use as a breeding ground for the bird species corncrake).

According to scientific criteria, these were suitable territories in terms of number and size within the meaning of Article 4(1) and (2) of that Directive and therefore should have been included in the designated area.

It was also argued that Austria was in breach of the Habitats Directive by failing, when authorising the construction of the Lake Constance dual carriageway, to comply properly and fully with the requirements of Article 6(4) of that Directive, as this was a project where there has been a negative assessment of the implications for the site yet no alternative or compensatory measures had been considered.

The Advocate General has therefore recommended that the ECJ should declare there to have been breaches of both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Though not currently available in English, the Opinion of the Advocate General can be found at the following link in a number of European languages:

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