The European Commission has decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not respecting its obligations under the Habitats Directive, following a letter of formal notice in 2019 and a reasoned opinion on the matter in 2020.
Within six years from the listing of their Sites of Community Importance (SCIs), Member States must designate them as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). In addition, they have to set site-specific conservation objectives and establish the necessary conservation measures to maintain or restore the protected species and habitats present in the sites, in order to reach favourable conservation status.
In particular, the European Green Deal and the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 set the objective for the EU to halt biodiversity loss by preserving its natural sites and restoring damaged ecosystems to good ecological status.
In 2017, Bulgaria announced a new approach for the management of its Natura 2000 Network, which covers nearly 35 per cent of the territory of the country. However, according to the Commission, the country has not yet designated 194 out of 229 Sites of Community Importance as Special Areas of Conservation within the required time limit and has generally and persistently failed to set site-specific conservation objectives and measures for these sites. And these are key requirements to protect biodiversity across the EU.