The European Court of Justice has ruled that Germany is not doing enough to protect nature. The EU judges ruled that Germany has violated its obligations under the Habitats Directive. The European Commission can now impose fines of millions on Germany if necessary.
In concrete terms, 88 areas of TP3T were not designated in time as protected areas of TP3T for the conservation of animal and plant species. The European Commission had warned Berlin several times and eventually referred the matter to the Court of Justice. This conviction is a blow to the German authorities and has potentially far-reaching consequences for nature conservation in the country.
The consequences of this ruling for the German agricultural sector cannot be underestimated. Many of these 88 gebieden are located in rural gebieden where agriculture is an important economic activity. The conviction could lead to stricter regulations and restrictions on agricultural practices in these areas to restore and preserve natural habitats.
The German government will now likely be forced to take drastic measures to repair the damage to the environment. This may include restoring agricultural lands to their original natural state, which entails significant costs for the agricultural sector.
Environmentalists and conservationists welcome the European Court of Justice ruling as a victory for nature and biodiversity in Europe. However, they also emphasize that this is only the beginning of a long-term process to repair the damage done to Germany's natural habitats and biodiversity.
One of the causes of the failure to designate protected areas and the lack of enforcement is the fact that parts of German agricultural and nature policy fall under the federal government in Berlin and other (fairly large) parts of the regional governments under sixteen German states. Something similar happened a few years ago with the German fertilizer and nitrate policy, which Berlin had to adjust after a European fine worth millions.