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The Ruling of the Court of Justice in Sweetman: How to avoid a death by a thousand cuts?

Hendrik Schoukens

elni Review 2014, Issue 1, pp. 2-12. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2014.001

This paper analyses the ECJ Sweetman-Case and new developments in the judicial fixation of the scope of Art. 6(3) Habitats Directive about the permissibility of industrial or infrastructural interventions in Natura 2000 areas. It examines the exact content of the decision, along with the highly readable opinion of Advocate General Sharpston. After briefly having addressed the relevant factual background to the case, the wider implications of this ruling on the future application of the substantive protection rules laid down in the Habitats Directive are discussed. Throughout the analysis, this contribution argues that the Court’s ruling should be welcomed since it provides an additional safeguard for the EU’s most vulnerable habitats since, if applied on a broader scale, it might help to reduce the slow incremental decline of Europe’s most valuable natural habitats and species.

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