Scotland Europa Nature Working Group

Scotland Europa, NatureScot, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Wildlife Trust, James Hutton Institute, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), Scottish Enterprise.

In February 2014, the European Commission launched a ‘Fitness Check’ of European nature legislation, with the objective of assessing whether the EU Birds and Habitats Directives are “fit for purpose”, i.e. whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and are delivering as expected.

Scotland Europa has a large and varied contingent of environmental members. Our member organisations recognise that our nature and biodiversity are among Scotland’s greatest assets – a natural capital that provides huge benefits for some of our key economic sectors like tourism, food and drink, as well as for the wellbeing of society as a whole.

There was therefore quickly a considerable amount of interest in this policy process concerning understanding what happens next and exploring ways to contribute evidence to and influence the policy development. The initiative to form an informal nature working group came about thanks to member interest, who approached Scotland Europa and suggested that Scotland Europa acts as a facilitator for this group.


A working group was convened, bringing together key staff from all the interested member organisations, including government agencies as well as regulated industry, land owners, research and academia and environmental NGOs. Through a combination of physical and virtual meetings, the working group was a means for dialogue and sharing of evidence among stakeholders who might not have found each other otherwise.

Scotland Europa facilitated the discussions and coordinated the submission of a joint Scotland Europa response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the fitness check. This response brought together the input from our membership. Bearing in mind the wide and diverse reach of our organisation, this submission was not a position paper representing the lowest common denominator – it was rather a collection of evidence from Scotland and our actors involved in and impacted by EU nature legislation.

Our joint members’ response outlined where there is a shared members’ view and narrative to contribute to the EU-level gathering of evidence, as well as where individual members have specific and differing opinions. Some of our member organisations also submitted individual responses to this consultation.

Lessons Learned

The response brought together views from nine organisations, which is among the largest number of Scotland Europa members involved in this kind of cross-membership policy influencing activity to date. Members involved showed great satisfaction with this model of informal working group.

In addition to being a route for coordinated Scottish influence on the EU policy process, the consultation exercise was also useful for Scotland Europa and our members as an opportunity to sit down and reflect and share experiences on what has worked well, less well, and to what extent existing policy and legislative tools allow us to effectively bridge any challenges together.

As the Nature Fitness Check was one of the first European Commission exercises structured according to the principles of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) – assessing the Effectiveness, Efficiency, Relevance, Coherence, and EU Added Value of EU legislation – this methodological approach by Scotland Europa provided capacity building for member organisations on how to engage with EU policymaking on a wider level, for future purposes.

It encouraged dialogue with partners and recognition of some otherwise overlooked areas of common ground - Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Status
  • Completed
  • Project Launch
  • 01 February 2014
  • Project completed
  • 07 December 2016

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