The Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive form the backbone of biodiversity policy and the legal basis for our nature protection network. The aim of the Natura 2000 network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both directives. Projects need to be developed respecting the sites’ integrity.
Panellists from DG REGIO, DG ENVIRONMENT and JASPERS brought to the participants’ attention the key requirements under of Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitats Directive) in the context of Major Projects’ preparation. A Member States’ experience in setting up site-specific conservation objectives was presented by representatives of the Lithuanian Railways company LTG Infra, which is responsible for the Lithuania's railway network infrastructure, safety, modernization, and development.
The presentations focused on the importance of Site-specific conservation objectives (SSCO), including setting up of SSCO, undertaking Appropriate Assessment (AA) in view of the SSCO and the necessary completeness of the Major Project application, including Appendix 1 Declaration, also known as Natura 2000 Declaration. During the presentations, panellists had the opportunity to provide the participants with guidance on how to address gaps and challenges during project preparation in relation to SSCO (e.g. lack of SSCO and/or poor quality of SSCO).
Speakers addressed challenges frequently encountered in project preparation, lessons learned from the 2014-20 period, and possible ways forward. For the 2021–2027 programming period and the cohesion policy funds, the use of CBA is not a legal requirement. However, the Common Provision Regulation calls for managing authorities to ensure proper value for money for the selection of operations to be financed, with a major shift of responsibilities from the EU to Member States. In this respect, economic appraisal can be used by managing authorities as part of a wider methodology and related criteria for the selection of operations.
Economic appraisal is also increasingly relevant in other investment contexts beyond cohesion policy, including for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the InvestEU Fund. In terms of international financing institutions, the European Investment Bank (EIB) conducts an Economic Appraisal of projects considered for financing, which are often co-financed by various EU funds.
In recognition of the above, DG REGIO has prepared with the support of JASPERS, the preparation of an Economic Appraisal Vademecum (EAV), for possible wider voluntary use across EU funding sources in the 2021–2027 programming period. This EAV complements the 2014 CBA Guide and is based on established good practices at both EU and national levels.
This interactive webinar aimed at presenting the EAV and its relevance for the 2021–2027 programming period, with a particular focus on its potential use in the context of several EU funding sources, as well as its relation with the economic appraisal practices used by the EIB.
The Webinar closed with an open discussion on the challenges for the 2021-27 period, and way to overcome them also with JASPERS advisory and capacity building support.