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

BirdLife Europe today published a new report that provides an in-depth analysis of the exemptions in eight EU Member States: Bulgaria, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain.

Exceptions are exceptions to the law that takes into account special circumstances which, if present, cancel the protection that all European birds enjoy under the EU Birds Directive. This means that they effectively allow people to get rid of birds, their eggs or their nests in theoretically very specific situations, for example to continue with the construction work. Typically, such exemptions are only granted when all other non-lethal alternatives to protect the birds have been tried and failed.

With 18 exemptions each, each resulting in the death of more than 100,000 birds, these numbers are unfortunately likely to represent a gross underestimation of the real extent of the problem. BirdLife has uncovered persistent reporting problems and inconsistencies, including the fact that Member States do not provide the European Commission with any or incomplete reports on their exception activities. The lack of accurate reporting makes enforcing these critical laws just a joke.

Barbara Herrero: EU Commissioner for Nature Policy, BirdLife Europe:

By abusing their power to issue licenses to kill birds, Member States are breaking EU law, attacking biodiversity, abandoning animal welfare and turning away from science that clearly shows why birds are protected all the time have to. This carefree approach to documentation mocks the rule of law. The EU has put in place laws to protect nature but must enforce them if it is to reverse this disastrous trend.


For more information, please contact:

Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 2541 0781
[email protected]


BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organizations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to achieve high impact and long-term protection for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that make up BirdLife International. The Brussels-based company supports the European and Central Asian partnership and is represented in 47 countries, including all EU member states. With more than 4,100 employees in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of qualified volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 natural areas with a total area of ​​320,000 hectares.

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