Press release: New report reveals Member States are responsible for the death of over 14 million birds
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Press release: New report reveals Member States are responsible for the death of over 14 million birds

84 000 derogations granted between 2009 – 2017 push vulnerable species to the brink

Today, BirdLife Europe released a new report which provides an in-depth analysis of derogations in eight EU Member States: Bulgaria, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain.

Derogations are exceptions to the law made to allow for special circumstances, which, when in place, remove the protections all European birds enjoy under the EU Birds Directive. This means they effectively allow people to get rid of birds, their eggs or their nests in theoretically very specific situations, such as to proceed with construction work. Normally, such derogations are only granted when all other non-lethal alternatives to protect the birds have been tried and failed.

With 18 derogations alone each resulting in the death of more than 100,000 birds, sadly these numbers are likely to be a gross underestimation of the real scale of the problem. BirdLife has uncovered persistent problems and inconsistencies with reporting, including with Member States sending no or incomplete reports to the European Commission on their derogation activities. The lack of accurate reporting renders enforcement of these critical laws little more than a joke.

Barbara Herrero: EU Nature Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:

By abusing their power to grant licenses to kill birds, Member States are violating EU law, attacking biodiversity, abandoning animal welfare and turning their back on the science clearly showing why birds must be protected at all times. This cavalier approach to documentation makes a mockery of the rule of law. The EU has put the laws to protect nature in place, but it must enforce them if it wants to reverse this catastrophic trend.


For more information, please contact:

Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 2541 0781


BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.

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