Report on implementation of the NATURA 2000 NETWORK in Europe
Report ID: 50

Characteristics of the Natura 2000 network

Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive.
As stated in the European Commission strategy to protect Europe's most important wildlife areas, the aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It comprises Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and Special Protection Areas (SPA) designated under the 1979 Birds Directive.

The establishment of protected areas also fulfils a Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

The selection of Natura 2000 sites is based exclusively on scientific criteria, such as the size and density of populations of target species and the ecological quality and area of target habitat types present on the site.

The Directive does not lay down rules regarding the consultation process to be followed in selecting the
sites. This is for Member States to determine.

The directives do not say how much land and marine areas are to be included in Natura 2000 network. This will depend on the biological richness of the different regions. If, for example, a Member State is particularly rich in specific species and habitats, it is expected to designate sites in proportion to this wealth of biodiversity.

Although the establishment of Natura 2000 is not yet complete, an area equivalent to more than 15% of EU territory has now been proposed for conservation under the network.

Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. Human activities can continue on Natura 2000 sites, provided the future management is compatible with the objectives of biodiversity protection.

New activities or developments within Natura 2000 sites are not prohibited a priori, but are to be judged on a case by case basis. Procedure is defined in the Habitats Directive for assessment and subsequent decisions relating to development proposals that are likely to have an impact on designated sites.

Member States must ensure full compliance with the legal requirements of Natura 2000, regardless of whether they are in receipt of structural funds. However, it is particularly important to ensure compliance in situations that involve Community funded programmes.

In the light of this concern the Commission has already informed Member States that failure to present lists of Natura 2000 sites could result in the suspension of payments under certain structural funds programmes.

The threat of suspension of payments from such programmes was a precautionary measure to ensure that
Community funded programmes would not contribute to irreparable damage to sites before they have been officially proposed for protection under Natura 2000 policy.

Coordinated International Audit on Climate Change Key Implications for Governments and their Auditors (UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol)
Report ID: 53

Scientific research suggests that climate change has the potential to affect ecosystems, water resources, food production, human health, infrastructure, and energy systems, among other things. Scientific evidence from around the world suggests that climate change has already affected natural and human environments.
Countries around the world have identified climate change as a pressing worldwide issue by adopting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. They are collectively and individually taking actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the current and potential impacts of climate change. Substantial sums of money have been spent to date and will be spent in future to address this issue.

Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) play a major role in auditing government accounts and operations. They have different mandates but share a common responsibility to provide legislatures and their citizens with the
information they need to hold governments accountable for prudent financial management, and to varying degrees for compliance with domestic laws and international agreements, policy implementation, and program performance. The work of SAIs is independent, non‐political, and fact‐based, with the aim of promoting effective management and good governance within government.

Effectiveness of measures for improving the status of Lake Peipus
Report ID: 54

The National Audit Office of Estonia audited whether the state is aware of the sources of pollution influencing the status of Lake Peipus and whether the measures implemented for the protection of the lake have helped to reduce the pollution load and will ensure the good status of Lake Peipus by 2015.

According to the NAO the current activity of the Estonian state does not ensure the reduction of the pollution load of Lake Peipus so that it would help to achieve the lake’s good status by the year 2015 to meet the requirements of the European Union, or by the next deadline in 2021.

Border crossing of cargo at the land border between Estonia and Russia
Report ID: 55

The National Audit Office analyzed the work of Estonian border inspection points on the land border between Estonia and Russia. The goal was to point out to Estonian state agencies how they could make it easier for goods vehicles to cross the border and thereby reduce the queues at the border.

The Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation audited the activities of Russia’s state agencies at the border inspection points on the land border between Russia and Estonia. The opinions of both audit institutions were presented in a joint document.

The audit concluded that the organization of vehicles crossing the land border between Estonia and Russia improved considerably in 2011 when waiting areas were established by the border and an electronic queue was introduced. Vehicles are no longer queuing on Estonian roads, drivers know when they can expect to enter the Estonian border inspection point and do not have to waste their time on spending days in the queue. However, the introduction of electronic queues did not increase the capacity of the border inspection point. Sometimes, people still have to wait for several days before they can cross the border. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the Police and Border Guard Board, and the Tax and Customs Board, reducing the waiting times depends primarily on the work organization in the Federal Customs Service of Russia and in the border inspection points on the border between Russia and Estonia. Audit operations in Estonia and examining the organization of work in the Russian border inspection points opposite the Estonian ones give the National Audit Office reason to believe that this is likely to be the case. However, there also reserves that can be used to make the work of Estonian border inspection points more efficient.

Report on public procurement for building works in the Czech Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany
Report ID: 63

The procurement of goods and services by public-sector contracting agencies is of great importance both for the government and for the business community. The government’s task is to use public resources as efficiently and economically as possible and to ensure fair and regulated competition.

In the European Union (EU), public contract awarding is key to the success of the single economic area. In order to ensure a largely unrestricted competition in the field of crossborder procurement, awarding authorities also have to meet certain requirements imposed by the EU in awarding contracts where the contract value exceeds certain thresholds. To this end, the EU Member States have to transpose EU
procurement law into their national law and apply it. This has already happened both in the Czech Republic and in Germany. For contracts worth less than the EU thresholds, regulating public contract awarding procedures remains a matter for the individual countries.
Moreover, the contract award procedure is, as a rule, vulnerable to corruption. In view of the generally high damage potential, awarding authorities are obliged to take reasonable action to fight and to rule out corruption and abusive favouritism in their contract award procedures (corruption prevention).