On 10 October 2019 the CJEU handed down a much anticipated judgment in case C-674/17 Luonnonsuojeluyhdistys Tapiola. This case was a preliminary reference from the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland on the interpretation of Article 16(1)(e) of the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats of wild fauna and flora).
Article 12 of the Habitats Directive requires member states to establish a system of strict protection for animal and plant species listed in Annex IV of that Directive, including Canis Lupus – Wolves.
Article 16(1) allows member states to derogate from that strict protection in limited circumstances and provided certain tests are met. There must be no satisfactory alternative, the derogation must not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population at favourable conservation status in their natural range and derogations may only be applied for specific reasons, in summary:
- in the interests of protecting wild flora and fauna and conserving natural habitats;
- to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries and water;
- in the interests of public health and public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest;
- for the purposes of research or education, for example for repopulation or reintroduction;
- to allow, under strictly supervised conditions, on a selective basis and to a limited extent, the taking or keeping of certain specimens in limited numbers specified by the competent national authorities.